Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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Guest and Gray, P.C. is committed to providing Kaufman county communities with the best possible civil litigation services. We are a full services law firm. When people ask us what kind of law we do, our response is always “its is better to explain what types of we DO NOT do,” which is basically two areas of law: bankruptcy and tax.

At Guest and Gray, there is literally no case too big. Our firm has grown to a point where no case is too big or too complex. Whether it be complex civil litigation involving business and corporate legal disputes, breach of contract, real estate law, personal injury or probate and estate planning, Guest and Gray has the lawyers that you need to help you with any legal issue.

TERRELL IS GROWING

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gavel1-300x169Guest and Gray Law Firm is the firm to turn to when you have a legal problem. Our practice is quickly growing and we are the trusted Rockwall criminal and civil litigation firm. We are proud to own the title of being the largest and most highly rated local Rockwall law firm.

Sure, you can call a Dallas firm for help, but why? Guest and Gray, P.C. offers the same excellent service but we have convenient office locations for our Rockwall clients. Live in Rockwall or north of Rockwall? Our Rockwall office is located off of TL Townsend just passed the Rockwall county courthouse. Live south of Rockwall towards Heath? It may be better for you to meet us in our Forney location in downtown Forney just off the old townsquare near the city offices. Wherever you may be in Rockwall county, Guest and Gray, P.C. is the local choice.

We are skilled in all different practice areas that you may need, whether it be criminal defense, family law, civil litigation or personal injury, we have a lawyer (or two) just for you. Our attorneys are aggressive and fight hard for each client. No case is too big. We have the resources to take your case the distance. Period.

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RockwallHarbor2Rockwall is a destination for residents and businesses alike. Rockwall has it all. High end living, great places to eat, Lake Ray Hubbard, easy access to Dallas and East Texas. Overall, it is a great place to live and raise a family. It is also a great place to start a business because of the high population density in Rockwall and the fact that it is a hub for several major interstates and highways.

Guest and Gray, P.C. is the largest and highest rated law firm in Kaufman and Rockwall counties. Our staff of attorneys is dedicated to serving the Rockwall area. We are the local, trusted law firm who has represented hundreds of Rockwall county residents over the years in various legal disputes.

We are a full service law firm practicing in the following areas of law in Rockwall County, Texas:

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HuntCountySabineRiverHunt County is a mostly rural county. Everyone knows that Greenville is exploding in size, but what people do not know is that the rest of the county is getting ready to catch up. The people are great and the cities and towns bring back memories of what Texas was like growing up. But even Hunt County simply cannot escape the growth in nearby Dallas, Collin and Rockwall counties. Between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Hunt County’s year over year growth spiked from just over 1.2% to 2.48%. Similar growth has continued in the county in  2017 and early 2018 so far.

As a lawyer, what I see coming for Hunt county is increased traffic and traffic accidents and an uptick in civil litigation. Residential growth always leads to commercial growth. Both of those lead to civil litigation, such as real estate and breach of contract litigation. When most people think of hiring a lawyer, their first thought is “I need a Dallas lawyer!”

However, that is simply not the case. Hunt county has numerous attorneys who are capable handling any of your civil litigation needs. Guest and Gray, P.C. is a law firm based out of Kaufman and Rockwall counties that seeks to represent people in civil litigation matters all across East and Northeast Texas, including: Kaufman, Rockwall, Hunt, Anderson, Henderson, Hopkins, Lamar, Rains, Rusk, Smith, and Van Zandt county areas.

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GuestandGrayLogoGuest and Gray Law Firm is the highest rated local law firm for both Rockwall and Kaufman counties. Our main offices are located in Rockwall off of T.L. Townsend just passed the Rockwall County Court House and our Forney location is located in old downtown Forney off of Bois D’Arc St., in the old bank building. We strive to obtain outstanding results for our all of our cases. Our support staff is hardworking and knowledgeable strives to put you at ease during tenuous times.

Being involved in litigation is never a person or businesses goal. However, sometimes circumstances make it impossible to avoid a lawsuit without giving up substantial rights and, in most cases, money.

Guest and Gray, P.C. is one of the only full service law firms in the Kaufman and Rockwall county areas. When it comes to providing service to our clients, we have the attorneys to provide excellent legal counsel in just about any area of law. Our practice areas include:

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EstatePlanningPic-300x223When people think of “contesting a will” they typically imagine an rich family member (probably in a wheel chair) who has recently passed away and a greedy family member who just wants to make a quick buck. Why? Because that is how it is always portrayed in movies. In most cases, that is not the reason for contesting the Will of the deceased.

In Rockwall and Kaufman county, quite often we see Wills that were done 30-40 years ago and they my not meet all of the standard requirements of Wills done today. That does not necessarily mean that these Wills are not able to be probated, but if the testator is still alive, it is best to update the Will as there may have been changes to the needs of the estate or a means to update the Will to comply with modern requirements that will help avoid a Will contest.

Sometimes there are very good reasons for contesting the validity of a Will. In Texas, there are five major categories of reasons to contest a Will and if any one of them is present, then the Will should be set aside and not sent forward to be probated.

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EstatePlanningPic-300x223In Rockwall and Kaufman counties, it is quite normal for families to be blended: one or both spouses had children from previous marriages prior to entering into the current marriage. So, when I talk to potential clients about obtaining a Will, one of the inevitable questions is always “what happens if I die without a Will?” So, lets talk about that for a minute. Recently, I had a couple with a blended family in my office who had substantial assets that they wanted to have distributed upon their death. They had done some research and were aware enough to know that Texas does have a set of laws known as the “laws of descent and distribution” in the State of Texas, but they wanted to know how it would affect their estate if they just used the default rules instead controlling the process through having a comprehensive estate plan. I’ll answer this just like I did with them:

What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

Chapter 201 of the Texas Estates Code addresses this issue and, based on whether you are married, divorced, blended family, adopted children, died without children, and so on and so forth, this chapter deals with any of these such issues.

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GuestandGrayLogoSmall Estate Affidavits are a common question that we receive from clients and potential clients in the Estate Planning section here in the Rockwall and Kaufman County areas. Many people do not have a large estate other than the value of their home. This type of estate is the exact reason that the Texas Legislature enacted chapter 205 of the Estate’s Code. It was done mainly to prevent fraud on the decedent’s estate and provide for a more efficient and less costly means of administering estates that do not have a large amount of assets.

For the most part, the statute achieves its stated purpose and helps many families across the state quickly and effectively take care of the entire estate of their loved one while avoiding the potential horrors of the probate process in Texas. However, there are narrow requirements in Texas to qualify for a Small Estate Affidavit in Texas. This can create complications in certain instances such as where, although the size of the Estate would qualify it for the Small Estate Affidavit process, they do not qualify because the decedent owned real estate that is not considered “exempt” property, such as a homestead. For instance, if the decedent owned an empty plot of land, they would not qualify for the Small Estate Affidavit process because an empty lot will not qualify for “exempt” property because the decedent was not using it as their “homestead”. There are other situations, but that is the most common.

As noted above, there are narrow requirements for an Estate to qualify for the Small Estate Affidavit process in Texas and those requirements are as follows:

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EstatePlanningPic-300x223Guest and Gray, P.C. is a full-service law firm that offers our clients in Rockwall and Kaufman counties a wide variety legal services. One of those services is estate planning services. When speaking to clients and potential clients, the biggest misconception that we find is when speaking about the full scope of what an estate plan actually. Most people assume that a Last Will and Testament is the estate plan. Boom. Done. However, the Last Will and Testament is simply a piece of an estate plan.

A basic estate plan typically includes 5 separate documents: the Last Will and Testament, Durable General Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Physician’s Directive (often referred to as the “living Will”), and a HIPAA release. Now, not everybody will need the full basic estate plan, however, in all likelihood, you will need at least a combination of the above. Why? because it helps to provide you with certainty as to what will happen to your belongings or affairs should you pass away or become incapacitated.

In estates with large assets you may also want to set up a trust. There are several reasons for wanting to do this, some of which are tax reasons (and to obtain those reasons, contact your CPA), and others where you want to avoid the potential issues that arise in probate. If you transfer your assets during your lifetime into a trust, then the need for probating an estate becomes virtually nil and the trust just keeps on trucking along after you pass away. Good right? Can be. In counties like Rockwall and Kaufman, where you have an influx of high income individuals (Rockwall county is the wealthiest county in Texas according to 2016 Census reports and Kaufman county is exploding with development and new mid-to-high-end home starts). This creates a lot of reasons why you may want to think about adding a trust to your estate plan.