A Way to Avoid Probate

January 13, 2024

Probate in Texas is simple and cost-effective.  However, there are ways to avoid probate.  Bottom of Form An easy way to avoid probate is to add a POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) designation to bank accounts, IRA or other financial accounts.  This is done through a beneficiary designation at the financial institution.  Retirement accounts are also often beneficiary designated accounts.  These accounts pass outside of probate so long as there is a beneficiary listed on the accounts.   If you die without a will, your assets will pass according to Texas intestate succession laws.  However, some assets may not require probate. Here are some examples and property that may help to avoid probate: property you’ve transferred to a living trust life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a named beneficiary securities held in a transfer-on-death account real estate for which you have a transfer on death deed vehicles for which you have a transfer on death registration.  An owner or joint owners may designate a beneficiary to whom interest in the motor vehicle transfers upon the death of the owner or last surviving owner. A designated beneficiary has no interest in a motor vehicle until the owner’s (or last surviving owner’s) death payable-on-death bank accounts   Contact Cynthia Fronterhouse to discuss probate.  Nimmons & Fronterhouse offers flat fees for many probate matters.

Read more

Planning for Your Digital Legacy

October 27, 2022

An estate plan often focuses on tangible property such as jewelry, artwork, money, and vehicles. However, in this age of technology, it is important to remember to include your digital assets. Digital assets consist of everything we own online. Because we spend more time on computers and smartphones than we ever did before, you may not realize how much digital stuff you own, from photos and videos to online accounts, cryptocurrency, and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Why Is It Important to Plan for Digital Assets? Planning for digital assets is important for several reasons. First, without a plan, digital assets may get lost in the Internet ether and not pass to your loved ones after your death due to the simple fact that their existence is unknown. Second, planning now means your family will not have to worry about hunting for these items upon your death while also grieving a beloved family member. Third, like most adults (roughly 70 percent of them), you want certain aspects of your digital life to remain private. If you do not create a plan, your loved ones may learn things that you wish to keep secret. Finally, planning now can minimize the risk of identity theft, which happens to 2.4 million deceased Americans each year. Keep reading to learn more about why it is important to include digital assets in your estate plan and how to account for them. Digital Assets: What Are They? Instead of existing in photo albums and on videotapes and DVDs, most of our family photos and videos are now digital. Even if they lack commercial value, they certainly have sentimental value that you want to preserve for your family and friends. Social media accounts containing your photos and videos can also have value to your loved ones when you are gone. For example, a Facebook account can serve as a memorial after you pass away. When you consider all of the other accounts that you log into (more than 130 on average), the list becomes quite lengthy.   Digital assets that you may own include the following: Social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) Financial accounts at brick-and-mortar and online institutions Business documents and other files stored in the cloud Cryptocurrency NFTs Databases Device backups Internet domain names and uniform resource locators (URLs) Streaming service accounts (e.g., Netflix, Peacock, Hulu) Merchant accounts (e.g., Amazon, Etsy, eBay) Gaming tokens Virtual avatars Points-based loyalty programs (e.g., for groceries, gas stations, airlines, and hotels) Rights to intellectual property, artwork, and literature Online betting accounts Monetized video content   Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan Taking inventory of your digital assets may take some time, but it is worthwhile. If something were to happen to you, your estate planning attorney or another trusted person should have complete access to your online footprint. This includes usernames and passwords for all accounts. Tools such as Dashlane or the password manager integrated in your browser can be used to simplify the storage of usernames and passwords.   In addition, you should continuously back up all digital assets, including photos and important documents, to the cloud, and […]

Read more
will and estate planning seminar in Houston

Trusted Advice on Wills for Houston Families

June 22, 2022

Trusted Advice on Wills for Houston Families Do you have a will? Is your will valid? Who can manage your finances if you cannot? Can your family make healthcare decisions on your behalf? How do you make sure your doctor follows your wishes? Attorney Cynthia Fronterhouse enjoys helping Houston families and individuals in the area of estate planning, wills, trusts and probate. Attend one of her upcoming (FREE) seminars or contact her today for a one-on-one consultation. Get the trusted advice on wills for Houston families.

Read more

When Your Business Partner Divorces or Dies

January 15, 2021

Did You and Your Business Partner form an LLC? Do You Know What Happens If Your Business Partner Dies or Divorces?  Death and divorce are probably two most uncomfortable topics for family members and business partners to discuss. No one wants to start the unpleasant conversation, yet these are necessary topics to consider when forming a business. Figuring out what happens if your business partner dies or divorces is best addressed before either of these events become reality. **       In the event that one of the company co-founders or owners dies, what does happen? **       How is their percentage of the business handled? **       Are you prepared to become partners with your deceased partner’s children? **       What happens if your business partner divorces their spouse? **       Could the court order you to be in business with your partner’s former spouse? These are all tough questions.  Even if you do not want to discuss these matters with your business partner(s), it is important to understand whether your LLC agreements address these contingencies and have a plan of action in place just in case. And it’s definitely important if this is something you’re currently going through. WHAT ARE BUY SELL PROVISIONS? WHY ARE THEY NEEDED? One of the most crucial steps in creating a business with multiple partners is agreeing on buy-sell terms, which could be part of the company agreement for your limited liability company or could take a form of a separate agreement for a corporation. Buy-sell agreements essentially provide a method for the remaining partners to carry on with the business without the concern of becoming partners with unintended parties, such as the former business partner’s ex-spouse or the deceased partner’s family members. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR BUSINESS PARTNER DIES? First of all, the deceased partner is disassociated from the business, whether it is a partnership, corporation or limited liability company, when he or she passes. There can be a few different options for how this could shake out: The deceased’s estate takes over the deceased member’s share of the business. The deceased’s estate sells the membership interest back to the business upon a payment to the estate. You buy the share of the partnership using a financial formula and insurance proceeds. WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO AGREEMENT? However, if you and your business partner did not have an agreement providing for transfer of the partner’s interest upon death, business succession might become a bit more complex. In some cases, it could mean that company is dissolved immediately upon one of the partners’ death. The surviving partner might also owe the later partner’s estate a debt for their share of the partnership that accrues at the date of their death. In Texas, combination of the company agreement, the Texas Business Organization Code and the deceased partner’s Last Will and Testament will govern what happens to the former partner’s share of the business. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR BUSINESS PARTNER DIVORCES? Texas is a community property state, and as a result, your spouse has the right to half of any business interests you created or acquired in the course of the marriage. […]

Read more