Estate Planning

  • Esate Planning for both people who don't have legitimate concerns about paying estate taxes when they die
  • Estate Planning for Wealthy Couples or individuals
  • Advise and drafting of Wills
  • Advise and drafting of trusts
  • Both revocable and permanent trusts
  • Consulting with clients about selection of family members, friends, or professional persons or entities to serve as agents under Powers of Attorney for business and financial matters
  • Health Care Powers of Attorney, Directives to Physician or Living Wills
  • HIPPA Directives
  • Selection of Guardian for parents of minor children
  • Selection of Guardian to serve client with appropriate forms

It is the philosophy of this Firm that each client should have a Will. It does not necessarily follow that every Will that is drafted must be probated. Sometimes a person dies without leaving either property or bills and it is often unnecessary to probate a Will in such instance. There are two general important functions of the Will. First and foremost, the Will should clearly identify both the property you want to have passed to your beneficiaries and the identity of each person who is to receive any of the property from your estate. Gifts can be specific gifts, like the gift of a car, a piece of jewelry, or a specific sum of money, or it can be a general devise or bequest, for instance: "I give my home and all of the tangible personal property located in my home in the nature of furniture, furnishings, and personal effects used within my home."

It is the philosophy of Schmidt and Wenzel, P.C. to advise you of different alternative dispositions that are available to you to benefit your family. In some cases, especially where young child are or may be involved, it is important to have a trustee appointed so that property does not pass to an individual less than 18 years of age. Sometimes trusts for the benefit of a spouse or a special needs child are highly suggested by the fact situation and the circumstances surrounding a family. The attorneys of Schmidt and Wenzel, P.C. are ready to answer your questions, provide you guidance, give you options, and assist you in drafting articulate Will documents which can be interpreted, understood, and carried out by both your Executor and the Probate Judge who hears and considers matters involving your estate.

With respect to revocable trusts, attorneys with the Firm of Schmidt and Wenzel, P.C. can provide consultation and drafting of revocable trust agreements. Although it is the Firm's philosophy that often attorneys within the State of Texas suggest the use of a Revocable Trust when a Will would perform just as appropriate a function as the revocable trust, it is also our observation that clients who wish to have privacy respecting their financial affairs and who want to have the advice and expertise of either a professional trustee or a family member or friend with special skills in investing property can use a revocable trust to express their desires on how property is to be held and administered both during their lifetime and after they pass. It is true, that in some instances, the use of revocable trusts can avoid the need for probating a Will.

With respect to probate and estate administration, in Texas, the probate of a Will is simply a judicial declaration by a probate judge that a specific document is indeed the Last Will and Testament of an individual, and that through the Court's order, it is officially recognized and published (or probated) as the last, final, and enduring expression a Testator's wishes involving the property he or she has accumulated during his or her lifetime.

Administration of the estate is accomplished by either the court-appointed Administrator or an Independent Executor identified by the Testator in the Testator's Will, and confirmed by the written order of the Probate Judge which probates the Will and appoints the individual selected by the Testator as the Testator's agent on earth to carry out the terms and provisions of Testator's Will. In Texas, there is no such entity as the Estate of a deceased person. Instead, the Independent Executor is the agent to carry out the terms and provisions of the Will, that is, to pay the debts and to distribute the property to the beneficiaries. The attorneys at Schmidt and Wenzel, P.C. can assist either the beneficiaries of a Will, or the Independent Executor or Administrator of an Estate, to understand their rights, their duties, and their responsibilities.

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