Benefits of a Revocable Trust

Estate Planning Worksheet

I thought I would share the following article since it is excellent.  I have convenient locations in Frisco and Dallas. Call me to discuss if a revocable trust is right for you! (214) 775-5050 or e-mail grant@frankfurtlaw.net

by Kristin L. Brown

Clients who are contemplating their estate plan often assume that they need nothing more than a will, and they are often skeptical when presented with the idea of making a revocable trust rather than a traditional will the centerpiece of their estate plan. Many people mistakenly assume that trusts are only appropriate for ultra-wealthy individuals who need complex tax planning. In reality, a revocable trust offers a multitude of benefits for nearly every type of client.

Reduction of Texas Probate

If a client fully funds his or her revocable trust during life, there is a strong possibility that there will be no need for probate following the client’s death. Although the Texas probate process is relatively simple, there is still value in saving the time, court costs, and attorneys’ fees associated with it, especially when probate court dockets across the state are as congested as ever. Even if probate cannot be avoided altogether, muniment of title proceedings are much more likely to be an option for the estate of a decedent who had the bulk of his or her assets in trust. Probating a will as a muniment of title allows the persons handling the estate to forgo the requirements of an independent administration, such as providing various notices to creditors and beneficiaries and preparing an Inventory, Appraisement, and List of Claims.

Elimination of Ancillary Probate

While failing to avoid Texas probate is unlikely to have dramatic consequences, the same cannot be said for states like California, where probate is notoriously costly and time-consuming. For clients who own property in other states, eliminating the need for ancillary probate is critical. A client who places his or her out-of-state property in a revocable trust will ensure that there is no need for probate proceedings in a potentially unfavorable jurisdiction. In our increasingly mobile society, it has become commonplace for our clients to move to other states. While clients should still seek a review of their estate plan by local counsel after a move, a client with a fully-funded revocable trust will, in any event, have a significantly lower risk of subjecting his or her estate to a costly probate process.

Privacy

Many clients prefer that their friends and family not know the exact details of their estate plan, especially if they opt to disinherit certain relatives or provide for them in disproportionate amounts. Once a will has been filed for probate, it is part of the public record and available for inspection by virtually anyone with internet access. A revocable trust, in contrast, is not required to be filed with the court, so a client can protect his or her privacy by including all of the key dispositive provisions of the estate plan in a revocable trust instead of a will. In conjunction with the revocable trust, the client will also need to execute a pour-over will that provides for all of his or her directly held assets to pass to the trust post-death.

Ease of Management

A Texas will signing ceremony requires two witnesses, a notary, and several steps that inevitably manage to befuddle some unsupervised testators and even the occasional attorney. Even when done correctly, sometimes it is simply a hassle to execute a new will or codicil when all a client wants to do is make a minor change to his or her plan. Amending a revocable trust, however, requires at most a notarized signature. There is often no need for the client to sign a trust amendment in the attorney’s office.

Continuity of Management

As more people are living longer, the need to plan for incapacity is more important than ever. A revocable trust, especially when funded, is an excellent tool in this regard. Should a client become unable to manage his or her own affairs, a new trustee can step in and immediately begin managing the trust for the client’s benefit, potentially avoiding the need for a guardianship proceeding. While a Durable Power of Attorney has traditionally served a similar purpose and is still an important part of an estate plan, it may be deemed unacceptable to a financial institution due to the age of the instrument or its policy requiring that its own form be used. Conversely, financial institutions are typically more receptive to dealing with successor trustees, making a revocable trust a more dependable guardianship alternative in most cases.

Kristin L. Brown is an associate at Davis Stephenson, PLLC

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What Happens When You’re Arrested for a DWI in Texas?

If you’re arrested for a DWI in the state of Texas, don’t panic. You are not guaranteed to be found guilty even if the circumstances give you a grim outlook. With care and thorough preparation, you can significantly reduce your chances of a conviction, or at least reduce the penalties. Follow these important steps to make sure your bases are covered before you enter a court of law.

Step 1: Hire an experienced attorney

This is instrumental in securing lighter penalties or an acquittal on your DWI. While you might think it’s cheaper to represent yourself, that decision could have a monumental impact on your future. Consider the typical penalties for a DWI: you could face hefty fines, imprisonment, community service, mandatory DWI education programs, and a license suspension or revocation. Your insurance provider could also hike up your rates or even cancel your coverage. These outcomes can impact your livelihood and put a huge strain on your finances. A criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in DWI cases can help you avoid the worst.

Step 2: Return to the scene

If there was an accident at the location of your arrest, you should immediately take detailed photos of every vehicle involved. If that’s not possible or not relevant, make sure you return to the location within a day or two—the sooner the better—and take some photos or videos of your surroundings. You’re looking for evidence of damaged property, tire marks, broken road signs, and anything unusual that might have something to do with your arrest. Your attorney can give you more tips on where to look.

Step 3: Document the circumstances

Write down your account of the arrest, and the events leading up to it, within 2 to 3 days. You’re more likely to remember the details if you do it sooner. You’ll want to document the 24 hours leading up to your arrest in detail, including everything you ate and drank, how much sleep you had the previous night, whether you had health issues or took medications that day, everyone you were with, and everything you did. If you can add the approximate times to every entry, you’ll end up with a more precise account.

Step 4: Speak with your witnesses

You should meet up with everyone who was with you throughout the six hours before your arrest. Get their recollections of that day, like in the account you wrote for yourself, and see if they can remember anything that might help your case. If more people can corroborate your story, you’re more likely to seem credible in front of a judge or jury.

Step 5: Appeal your license revocation

Even if it was your first offense, you most likely had your driver’s license suspended with an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). You must request an appeal or hearing within 15 days of your arrest. Since your ability to drive can impact your ability to work, take care of your children, and more, you should get an attorney to file the request on your behalf.

Step 6: Prepare for court

Once you’ve documented the events leading up to your arrest, you’ll also need to figure out an approach to your DWI charge. Will you plead guilty or not guilty? Has the prosecution offered you a plea bargain? Your lawyer will be able to look at all the facts and help you come to the best possible decision. They will also advise you on the best way to prepare for court, supporting your credibility and the strength of your defense.

It’s clear that a DWI conviction can severely impact your driving record, your finances, and your livelihood. A skilled lawyer can help you prepare the best possible defense. Contact Frankfurt Law Firm to get the thorough, professional, and aggressive legal representation you need to fight the charges effectively.