Tag Archives: estate plan

Doing Well by Doing Good

March is an important month in my life. I was born on March 19th, and as my birthday DSCF9141approaches, my desire to make good on the New Years promises I made to myself is renewed. One of those beginning of the year promises involved spending more time in service to others, outside of my professional obligations. Recently, I took a step toward fulfilling that goal by meeting with Mike Jansen and Dayton Gilbert of the American Heart Association. I had questions about the organization, and they were very generous with their time and insights over coffee.

One of the challenges that my clients and I face is how to balance the demands of daily life with the need to give back to the community. Many of my estate planning clients are Baby Boomers, thinking about how to equitably divide their assets. Those of this generation who are religious routinely leave bequests in their wills to their local church, synagogue or mosque. The other segment of my estate planning practice are newlyweds and young parents. They want what’s best for their families in order to secure their future. Each of these types of clients asks for advice, recommendations, and warnings about how to arrange their affairs in the face of the unknown. I advise each of these groups to consider making a testamentary bequest to a reputable charitable organization.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women. The American Heart Association funds heart research, hosts scientific sessions for continued advancement of the medical community, and educates the public about lifestyle, diet, and stress management. Its primary goal is to connect the best medical research to the doctors who need it most so that they can save lives by decreasing risks in current procedures. Due to the AHA’s efforts, scientists have learned how to slow down heart attacks and make stints safer and more effective for the people who need them to keep their arteries free from blockages that cause heart attacks.

My first professional experience with the American Heart Association happened in 2014 when I participated in a marketing campaign known as Free Wills Month. The AHA was one of the featured organizations, and it sent several informational booklets and newsletters detailing its mission. I felt comfortable recommending it to clients considering a charitable bequest in 2014, and I have continued confidence in that recommendation.  The impulse to serve others is a noble one. If you have been fortunate enough to leave assets to your spouse, children, friends, family or faith tradition, why not support a good cause? I encourage you to think seriously about donating your time, influence, and money to a cause you believe in. Both of my parents have heart disease; the efforts of the American Heart Association have tangibly benefited my family, and if you look deep enough, you’ll probably find they have helped yours too.

For more information about this wonderful organization from the Sugar Land attorney who cares, give me a call at (713) 574-8626. Also pay a visit to the American Heart Association website here.

I Don’t Have Much. Why Should I Have a Will?

Everyone should have a will.

Many people are under the mistaken belief that because they make modest incomes, have no investments, no real property, no business, and no children, they don’t need a Last Will & Testament. I’m here to demonstrate that this idea is very wrong. A Last Will & Testament is essential for everyone in almost every scenario because without one, the state is allowed to distribute your belongings after you die. You have no control whatsoever of what happens to your property if you decide to forgo a will.

You may be thinking, well if I don’t own anything, I don’t have anything to worry about, right? Not necessarily. Just because you don’t own anything today does not mean your circumstances may not change. You may get married and become entitled to what’s known as community property through your spouse, or you may have any number of life events that change your life financially, such as inheriting property from a loved one, or (luckily) winning the lottery.

Even if you don’t own very much, shouldn’t you be able to decide what happens to your meager belongings if you should suddenly pass away? In Texas and many other states, there are default rules for people who die without a will in place. Those default rules are known as intestate succession laws. Essentially, those laws determine who gets your stuff and how much of it, based on whether or not you are married, have children, or any family members living after your death. These laws get very complicated and cover not just immediate family, like your parents and siblings, but aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandparents. However, intestate succession laws simply identify who is entitled to your property. Your family still has to go through a court proceeding to address administrative duties such as changing the property currently in your name to someone else’s and ensuring that all remaining costs, taxes, and fees associated with your estate are paid.

In the event that no one is available to claim your property because you don’t have a will and your family members cannot be found, your belongings “escheat” or transfer to the State of Texas. This is a common law doctrine that basically entitles the state to take ownership of your property to prevent it being in limbo and without a recognized rightful owner. Isn’t that depressing?

In order to identify who you’d like to take possession of your belongings, it is imperative that you draft a will. Otherwise, you are leaving quite a bit to chance. To begin the process of planning your estate, please contact an experienced attorney. The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss would be glad to help you in this process. We can be reached at 713-574-8626 and moss.law.houston@gmail.com. Make an appointment today!