Do you have your affairs in order? What does that even mean? Generally, estate planning is planning for how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. Incapacity planning – planning who would have authority for you in the event that you are not deceased but incapacitated – is also grouped under estate planning.
Documents We Prepare
Special Needs Trusts
Medical Powers of Attorney
Financial Powers of Attorney
Living Wills / Directives to Physicians
Declarations of Guardian
Our goal is to make the estate planning process as simple and easy for you as possible. To begin the process, visit our Contact Us page to call or email our firm. An assistant will ask for some basic information from you about what services you need, and then they will schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Kocian either in person, on the phone, or via Zoom video call. Between that first phone call and the meeting with Mr. Kocian, we ask that you fill out our Estate Planning Questionnaire to begin thinking about items need to be put in your documents. At the first meeting, Mr. Kocian will use that questionnaire to guide a conversation about what documents you may need or want to handle your estate. After the initial consultation, we will follow up for any additional information that we need and begin working on your documents. As soon as we have all the information we need, an assistant will reach out to schedule an appointment to sign your finalized documents.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I even need a will?
In the State of Texas, property is not automatically distributed to your descendants when you die. Anyone wanting to deal with your assets such as real estate or other probatable assets after you pass away will need to go through the probate court process. This process takes much more time and costs thousands of dollars more if there is no will.
- What is the difference between a will and a trust?
Both wills and trusts direct how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. The person you name as executor of your will can take the will to court in order to deal with assets like real estate or other assets that need to be probated.
Revocable trusts allow you to hold your assets in the trust, and whoever is the trustee of the trust can handle those assets. After you (or you and your spouse, if you are married) die, your trustee can deal with distributing the assets you put in your trust without having to go through the probate process.
You can schedule an initial consultation with Mr. Kocian, and he can explain the differences in detail as well as give his recommendations for which one you might need.
- Can I avoid probate if I get a trust?
Yes, as long as you take the time to make sure that all necessary assets are owned by the trust or are payable to the trust.
- How long does the estate planning process take?
Generally, the time from your initial consultation appointment to signing appointment is about a month. The initial consultation appointment takes about an hour.
- Do I really need to fill out the whole Questionnaire?
Yes, as much as possible. Every question asks for information that we need to prepare your documents. Some of your personal details help Mr. Kocian give you the best recommendation for your estate planning based on your situation.
- Do both spouses need to be part of the initial consultation?
Mr. Kocian strongly recommends that you both participate because each of you may have questions. You can discuss the issues raised together, and you will both be able to hear his answer.
- Do I have to sign my documents in person? Can I use docu-sign or other electronic means?
In Texas, a legally-executed will must be signed in front of two witnesses and a notary. This cannot be accomplished electronically; it must be in person. Our signing appointments usually take around 40 minutes.
- Do I need to provide the two witnesses and notary for the signing?
No, we provide those for you.
- Do the persons I have named in my documents need to come in to sign the documents?
- Does all my property have to be titled into the trust?
No, probate can also be avoided through beneficiary designations.
- Do I have to give you all of my account numbers?
No. No account numbers need to go in your documents, and you will be responsible for funding your trust after it is created.
- Is there an option to protect my pets in a trust?
- Will this cost a lot of money?
Mr. Kocian will meet with you for your initial consultation free of charge. He can quote a specific fee for our services at your consultation once it is determined which documents you want and how complex they are. Setting up your estate planning is less expensive than it will cost your beneficiaries to probate your estate, and it is easier and takes less time as well.
- Will my will and/or trust be recorded?
No, these are your documents for your use. We do not record them anywhere.
- Can I name the same person(s) for various responsibilities?
Yes, you can.
- Will we need to update our documents periodically?
Yes. We recommend that clients review their documents every few years or in the event of a major life change.
- Is updating my documents something you can do for me?
Yes, we can assist with any changes you need to make.
- What does ``funding a trust`` mean?
A trust is an entity that holds assets. Think of it like a bucket that holds assets like tangible personal property, real estate, bank accounts, etc. The only assets that we will put in the trust are tangible personal property (furniture, furnishings, jewelry, collectibles, etc.) and real estate. It will be up to you to make sure that other assets like bank accounts and retirement accounts are either owned by the trust, payable to the trust, or have other beneficiary designations if you wish your beneficiaries to avoid probate. This process of making sure the assets are covered by the trust is called “funding the trust.” We will provide a Funding Memorandum that lists many different types of assets and instructions on how to deal with those in regards to the trust.
If you have any other questions, feel free to call us.