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Helpful tips for siblings working to care for aging parents

As your parents age, you and your siblings will face issues of how to take care of your aging parents. As uncomfortable as it is to think about, your parents will likely need extra help in their golden years. Some folks will suffer from dementia, or they may become incapacitated in other ways. Forming a care plan with your siblings will help you find solutions for your parents that work for the whole family.

You and your siblings must make important decisions on issues such as power of attorney, guardianship and estate planning. Sadly, the process can be fraught with tension and conflict if the adult children are not on the same page. You may wish to keep a few helpful tips in mind when facing parental elder care to avoid common mistakes that siblings face when caring for their parents.

Did My Loved One Have an Insurance Policy or Annuity?

If you have ever been unable to find the important papers of a loved one who died, you may have asked yourself that very question. As if you were not already grieving, there was the added pressure of wrapping up the affairs of your loved one. That process was made much more difficult when searching for important papers turned out to be an effort in futility.

Many of us do not keep good records, making it improbable or impossible for others to determine the nature and extent of our assets. Other times a family member or other relation goes in and takes insurance policies and other important documents. In my practice it is not uncommon for clients to report that someone entered the deceased person's home and took all of the important papers.

Where should you begin the probate of your loved one's estate?

After the death of a loved one, you may find yourself simply wanting to remain swallowed in grief rather than facing responsibilities. However, you likely also know that remaining in such a state can cause issues if certain aspects of the estate need addressing. If your family member named you executor of the estate, you may find yourself wanting to put off the probate process in order to handle your emotional challenges, but handling the necessary probate duties sooner rather than later may prove beneficial.

Though the probate process does not always have to prove daunting, various factors could make some cases take longer than others could. Therefore, you may wish to assess your loved one's estate and determine where to begin probate.

What is the Difference between Guardianship of the Person and Guardianship of the Estate?

There are times when an incapacitated person, a Ward, may need either a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate. There are other times when a Ward may need both. One person may serve in both roles, or the probate court may appoint two different people to serve in those roles.

Are Guardianship and Conservatorship the Same Thing?

The words guardianship and conservatorship are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings in the State of Texas. The term conservatorship is synonymous with the word custody. It is used in the family law context when a family law court issues an order regarding custody and visitation for a minor child or children. For example, if two people have shared custody of a minor child, they have what is called joint managing conservatorship. An order for conservatorship may carry over after the eighteenth birthday of a child if the child has special needs and will need continued support from his or her parents into adulthood.

Do Millennials Need An Estate Plan?

If you're a millennial, making an estate plan may not be the first thing on your mind. For one thing, you may have more student loans than any sort of estate to speak of. You may also be busy establishing yourself in a career, buying a first home or starting a family. But despite having other more immediate preoccupations, it's important not to neglect creating an estate plan. You needn't be a certain age to have an estate plan, nor do you have to have a certain amount of money. For the reasons outlined below, having an estate plan is important for everybody, including millennials

1. You have kids. If you have children, it's particularly important to establish an estate plan that includes a designated guardian for your children if anything should happen to you (injury, death) that would render you incapable of taking care of your family. Having a will in place is important, too, as it outlines the parameters of your childrens' inheritance in the event that you and/or the other parent should die unexpectedly.

Estate Planning Extends To Tax Time Charitable Donations

Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, this can be a good time to review your charitable donation strategy and make sure it aligns with your estate planning goals. Without a clear plan for your donations, you could lose out on money that you could have saved while still contributing to nonprofits and causes you believe in. Here are some things to consider as you complete your 2016 tax returns:

Strategize with appreciated assets. Do you have assets that you could donate to charity instead of writing a check or paying by credit card? You can avoid capital gains taxes on those assets if you donate those assets instead of making a more traditional payment.

Will My Special Needs Child Need a Guardianship?

The answer to that question depends on the nature and severity of your child's disability. Each child is different, so each child's situation will require an independent evaluation. As the parent, you are the natural guardian of your child until he or she reaches the age of eighteen. As the natural guardian, you have the right to make medical, housing, and other decisions for your child. But when your child turns eighteen, thus reaching the age of majority, those rights are transferred to your child.

If you need to retain decision-making authority, you will have to get it from a court order. A child with a disability severe enough to cause total incapacity, will need a full guardianship, under which all decision-making rights will be removed from the child and given to you. You will have to hire a guardianship attorney who can guide you through the process in your local probate court. Once you are appointed guardian, you will once again have full authority over your child and will be able to make all decisions on his or her behalf.

A Holistic Approach to Estate Planning

When you are ready to hire an estate planning attorney, it is important to find one who takes a holistic approach, one who will listen and who will ask the right questions to get to know you and your particular family situation. Attorneys who take this approach are better at:

  • Learning about your family dynamic
  • Understanding your long-term goals
  • Determining the true value of your assets
  • Preventing problems that can arise

Learning About Your Family Dynamic

Each family is unique, and each family has its own set of estate planning needs. An estate planning attorney who takes a holistic approach will not only listen but will also take time to determine whether you need special provisions, for example trust language for disabled beneficiaries. She will also help you craft a plan to get your assets to your intended beneficiaries when the time is right, such as delaying distribution to young adults until they mature enough to be fiscally responsible.

Contact

Law Office of Tawana H. Gray, PLLC
6451 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Suite 100
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Phone: 817-642-7900
Fax: 817-778-9953
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