Farrow-Gillespie Heath Witter LLP | Dallas, TX

One of the most common misunderstandings about estate planning is the belief that it is only for the wealthy. Anyone who owns property of any kind has an estate. Basic estate planning is an important component of an organized and responsible life, whether or not your estate is large enough to be subject to federal estate taxes.

Basic Estate Planning

If you own any property or have children, you should have a Will. Estate planning includes more than just a Will, however. It includes planning for potential disability during your lifetime, designating trusted individuals as medical and/or financial agents with power of attorney, designating a guardian to take care of your minor children in the event both you and your spouse die or become incapacitated, and other critical decisions.

For those reasons, we include an entire package of the basic estate planning documents with your Last Will and Testament.

Many people (as much as half of the population) will experience a period of either physical or mental disability before their death. Lack of planning can make caring for a disabled individual expensive and inconvenient for the caregiver. Good planning preserves a person’s dignity, as well as his or her assets, which can be used for the person’s care and can be preserved to the full extent possible for the next generation. Your loved ones will be grateful to you for having your affairs in order.

Complex Estate Planning for Complex Family Situations

For some individuals and families, basic estate planning does not fully meet their needs.  For example, blended or fragmented families often need to protect lines of inheritance and prevent family disputes during life and at death.  In these situations, living trusts can often be a useful planning tool.

In many families, adult children may be having trouble finding their way in life, or may have a physical or mental disability.  Special trust documents can be drawn up to address these scenarios, either for the short term or permanently.

Other complex situations involve asset holdings that require special attention.  For example, adult siblings or other family who own fractional shares of oil & gas royalty interests often find benefit in creating and co-owning a single entity to own the cumulative interest.  Benefits can include streamlined administration, increased lease negotiation leverage, and avoidance of even more fragmented ownership for the next generation.

Our complex estate planning includes all of the basic documents, plus additional planning for complicated family dynamics or complicated asset holdings.  Most complex estate plans can be accomplished at an affordable fixed fee.

Tax Planning for High Net Worth Individuals and Families

For individual estates (including all assets, life insurance proceeds, and inheritance prospects) that are considered to be very high net worth, significant tax planning makes sense to do.  Such planning can save the estate substantial tax liability.  In 2018, the estate tax is 40% of every dollar over the exemption amount of approximately $11.2 million per individual.  Our estate planning attorneys can implement a full panoply of legal strategies to minimize, and often eliminate, the gift & estate tax that would otherwise be imposed in a single generational context and in multi-generational contexts.

Family Foundations

A desirable component of many family estate plans is to establish a family foundation.  Our attorneys are experienced in forming foundations, obtaining tax-exempt status, and counseling with regard to governance of the foundation.

For an estate planning consultation, call 214-361-5600 or email us at info@fghwlaw.com.