Estate and Probate Law
Stewart D. Matthews & Associates understands the necessity for comprehensive estate planning for individuals with both simple and complex property holdings. firm has been assisting clients with their estate planning needs for over 15 years. In general, estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate, such as obtaining life insurance to pay for the costs of a funeral and other costs, preparing a simple will, ensuring beneficiary designations on financial accounts are properly made, and other preparations. More comprehensive planning, such as drafting more complex wills, various powers of attorney, trusts, and related estate planning documents may also be needed.
Estate and Probate Attorney
We handle a variety of estate planning matters, including planning for the distribution of an individual's property at his or her death and taking into account wills, taxation issues, insurance, property, and trusts so as to gain the maximum benefit of all laws, while, at the same time, carrying out the person's wishes. Our firm will assist in preparing personalized estate plans.
Estate and Probate Information Center
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Estate Planning
- Powers of Attorney
- How We Can Help
Probate and Estate Administration
Stewart D. Matthews & Associates assist clients in ensuring their probate process operates efficiently. Our firm will evaluate the estate involved and counsel clients for efficient and beneficial distribution of property. We also work with individuals who have been named as the executor of a will with filing the will for probate and complying with the duties and responsibilities of an executor. Stewart D. Matthews & Associates works closely with clients for probate and estate administration in Dallas and the surrounding areas as well as the rest of the state of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
We ill advise our clients regarding all options for administering and distributing intestate estates, if a family member or loved one passes without a will. We provide our clients with the degree of probate and estate administration assistance needed. Our firm is experienced in the probate process. We have guided clients through the steps involved in probate for many years. We routinely assist our clients with:
- Filing wills for probate
- Handling declaration of heirship proceedings
- Issuance of Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration
- Preparing an inventory of the estate
- Distributing the estate
- Properly documenting property distribution
- Handling creditor issues
A will is an individual's declaration stating his or her wishes for distribution of their property in the event of death. A will can further be used to designate guardians and trustees for your minor children. The will also name a person or persons who are responsible for filing the will with the court for probate and for distributing assets in accordance with the express terms of the will. There are many complex legal issues relative to drafting and executing valid wills that vary from state to state. It is imperative to seek representation from a knowledgeable and skilled civil litigation attorney to make sure your final wishes are carried out. Contact Stewart D. Matthews today for a consultation regarding your concerns.
Trusts are a separate legal entity used to safeguard your assets, maximize your tax savings, and sometimes to provide an income stream to beneficiaries. The individual creating the trust will designate a trustee to manage the trust assets and make distributions to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust documents. The trustee owes fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of the trust, and will be held accountable for all distributions from the corpus of the trust. One common type of trust is the testamentary trust used to hold assets for a minor child until he or she reaches maturity. Trusts may be created by a person's will or a separate trust document. By maintaining your assets in a trust, you can sometimes reduce your estate tax liability and leave more of your assets to your loved ones with the confidence that your final wishes will be honored.
Estate Planning and Disposition of Your Estate
Estate planning allows clients to allocate assets in conformance with their desires. Properly drafted wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents can prevent confusion concerning your objectives for property allotment. Clients can decide on fiduciaries, such as independent executors, guardians for minor children and trustees. These fiduciaries are accountable for the administration of your estate in probate and according to terms of your will, trust and other estate planning documents.
Efficient estate planning allows clients to safeguard their children's inheritances, decrease estate and inheritance taxes and reduce potential legal costs that may be incurred by your estate. Suitable Medicaid planning may assist with paying for long-term care and protect your property for your family members from unexpected costs associated with health care.
Efficient estate planning concentrates on the organization of your assets or property during your lifetime, and distribution of your property in the event of your death. Trusts and other legal arrangements ensure that your assets are managed in a way that meets your objectives. Appropriately drafted powers of attorney grant power to individuals you trust to make medical and/or personal business decisions for you in the event you are no longer capable of doing so.
Powers of Attorney
Of course, you should not plan only for what will happen to your property after you die. You should also consider planning for the end of your life. It's never too early to plan for what will happen to you in the event of illness, accident, or old age. Some options to consider include:
- Durable Power of Attorney: a document which authorizes another person to engage in certain transactions on your behalf with banks, landlords, etc.
- Medical Power of Attorney: a document which authorizes another person to make medical decisions for you
- Directive to Physician: details which medical treatment or procedures you would prefer to be used and not to be used if you were in a terminal condition
We can give you more information about your options for insuring that your needs are met and your wishes are carried out at the end of your life.
Directive to Physicians
By taking the time to make advance directives and medical powers of attorney, your medical providers and family members will be familiar with terms of your health care desires in the event you are not capable of making these decisions. These documents can eliminate difficult burdens for your loved ones because they will make apparent your health care wishes.
If you are the only parent, you may assign an individual to be the guardian of your minor children. The guardian will be primarily accountable for your children's wellbeing and education. Many parents wish to designate a guardian for their children in the event of death, and a properly drafted will can make your wishes known to the probate court and your surviving family members.
Texas Living Wills - Provides information about completing directives to physicians and other documents. We recommend using this website for educational purposes only, and not to try to execute these documents without attorney guidance.
Hospice - Tips on talking to your family, especially small children, about death Talking to your family about end of life issue:
Talking to Your Family about End-of-Life Issues - Information from Texas AgriLife Extension Service about how to make your family aware of your estate plan and final wishes