Batsche Law serves clients though legal life planning.
If you are a parent of minor children (or those with special needs) who are counting on you, your estate plan must begin with your children would always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what happens.
At Batsche Law PLLC, one of our areas of greatest focus is planning for the well-being and care of the children you love.
Without proper planning, if the unthinkable happens to you, here’s what could happen:
Your children could be placed into Child Protective Services (CPS) even if you have a will in place; even if you have a living trust while your legal documents or located or your family is identified. Or worse, your kids could be left in the care of the one person in your family you would never want raising them;
A Judge who doesn’t know you, or your family, will decide who will raise your kids, even if it’s the last person you would ever want;
When your kids turn 18, they get a check for whatever assets are left – outright with no protection
There are unscrupulous people who make it their business to review public records to find out what 18 year olds are coming into money;
The vast majority of estate planning attorneys simply do not address these issues, and do not plan from a parent’s perspective.
Yes, these things scare me too. That’s why I offer a Kids Protection Plan® with every estate plan we prepare for families with young children.
A Kids Protection Plan® is a set of instructions, legal documents and even an ID card for your wallet, which you need to have if you have kids at home who count on you for their well-being and care.
If you are in an accident, your Kids Protection Plan® will give the authorities clear instructions from you on who should care for your children so that your children are not placed with Child Protective Services, strangers. And your Kids Protection Plan® will ensure your children are raised by people you choose, not someone chosen by a Judge who doesn’t know you.
To get started with your Kids Protection Plan®, contact us.
Do you know what would happen legally- to you, your loved ones, your money and everything else you care about – if something unexpected happened to you?
If you have an estate plan and it’s out of date, your assets could be lost to the State Department of Unclaimed Property, or to an unnecessary Court process.
If you don’t know exactly what would happen for everyone you love and everything you own, then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen, legally and financially, so that you can decide if the current state of your affairs is okay with you.
We conduct a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we spend time together and you’ll get informed. Before your Family Wealth Planning Session, you will complete a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment, which will help you to get clear about what you own and what you have to think about when it comes to planning for the well-being and care of your loved ones and loved belongings. If you decide the current state of affairs is unacceptable, and if we both decide that it’s a fit to work together, then we can design an estate plan together that will best suit the needs of your family.
The foundation of your estate plan will include either a will or a revocable living trust. With the revocable living trust, you transfer your property into this trust for your benefit during your life. One of the benefits of a revocable living trust is that, when done correctly and maintained over time, your estate plan should help your family to avoid the cost and delay of probate.
Can I DIY My Estate Plan?
Unfortunately, most plans don't work because much of what passes for estate planning is little more than word processing. You are asked a few questions and then the drafter decides which "plan" is right for you, and fits you into a template. This is not estate planning; it is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name and then a hit of the “print” button which spits out form documents.
Professional Estate Planners
As a Personal Family Lawyer®, Amanda will educate you, take the time to get to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals and your issues and will gladly and patiently answer all your questions to produce an estate plan that is exactly right for you and will keep your loved one’s out of court and out of conflict.
If you are a family with young children, then your estate plan should begin with a foundation that ensures your children would always be taken care of, no matter what happens. At Batsche Law PLLC one of our areas of greatest passion is protecting minor children.
Estate planning for a family with special needs children comes with a complex set of financial, social, and medical issues that some lawyers are not equipped to handle. But Amanda is dedicated to helping you put a plan together so that your child with special needs will be well taken care of when you’re no longer able to serve as the primary caregiver.
We offer a variety of estate planning tools and strategies designed to accommodate the unique circumstances presented by children with special needs and their families in Texas. We can help you pass on the financial assets needed for your child to live a rich quality of life without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. We’ll also assist you in finding and appointing a trusted guardian and/or trustee to look after them in the event of your death or incapacity.
One “Catch-22-like” situation surrounding estate planning for those with special needs is leaving enough money to pay for the massive amount of care and supports these individuals typically need throughout their lifetime. Yet, if parents leave a large lump sum of money directly to a child with special needs, they risk disqualifying him or her for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Social Security Income.
Fortunately, the government allows assets to be held in what’s known as a “special needs trust” to provide supplemental financial resources for the physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled child without affecting their eligibility for public healthcare and income assistance benefits. That said, the rules for such trusts are quite complicated.
For instance, funds from a special needs trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary and must be disbursed to a third-party who’s responsible for providing the goods and services they need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. What’s more, the requirements for a child with special needs change dramatically over time, as do the laws governing public benefits.
Given this, it’s vital to work with an experienced special needs attorney who can create a comprehensive special needs trust that’s both properly structured and appropriate for your child’s specific situation.
Contact Batsche Law PLLC if you need estate planning for your child with down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, or another developmental or intellectual disability. Attorney Amanda can help develop a sustainable living plan for your child with special needs that will provide them with the finances they need to live a full life, while preserving their access to government benefits.
Nobody expects to be sued. Just ask the 20 million people involved in lawsuits last year.
Divorce, inheritance, health issues, creditors, employees, theft, changing markets, malpractice suits, sexual harassment claims, natural disasters and disgruntled business partners are just a few issues that can result in devastating lawsuits for unprepared business owners. The highest level of risk falls on those who think they are immune.
The more success you have (especially in business, professional practice or real estate activities), the more at risk you are as others see your success grow.
Here’s some of the “risky behavior” you may be engaging in right now:
Will you be signing loan documents, a personal guaranty or a lease? Do you have rental properties or employees? Are you an attorney or physician? Do you work in construction or perform professional services? Are you getting married and have children from a prior marriage or separate property assets you are bringing into the marriage.
Here’s the thing: all of these activities are activities we want to see you do more of! They are, in many ways, the spice of life. But we don’t want that spice to become too hot and impact your life negatively.
That’s where we come in. We can set up your estate plan structures to help you take maximum risk with minimum worry.
We assist our clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances. We will consider insurance, prenuptial agreements, asset segregation, choice of jurisdiction, gifting, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and asset protection trusts. Customized combinations are layered depending on the needs of the client and as appropriate.
There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets while you are alive and after you are gone. To find out which strategies may be right for you, contact us for a Family Wealth Planning Session.
If you and your spouse/partner cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian(s) for your kids, that’s something we can help with. We have training from the Family Wealth Planning Institute on helping parents work through this critical decision.
If you do nothing, the decision about who would raise your children (if something were to happen to you) would be left up to a judge to decide.
A judge who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know what’s important to you, and doesn’t know your children will make all the decisions about who cares for the people who are most important to you in the world.
We know that’s not what you want.
And, truth is … there may never be a perfect solution for you, but there is definitely a solution that is better than your children being raised by someone you didn’t choose.
Perhaps you think the way so many parents do, “if we don’t anticipate it, it will never happen, right?”
Then I guess that means you don’t need things like insurance or any other type of protection since bad things never happen to good people, right? And wouldn’t it be great if that were true.
Fortunately, there is a sensible approach to the selection of a guardian for your children that makes it a lot easier. And we can guide you through this most important of decisions.
In addition, we will guide you to put in place a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® that will help make sure you avoid the common mistakes most people make when choosing guardians for their children. Check out the 6 Common Mistakes People Make When Choosing Guardians for Their Children.
If you are here to learn about Texas probate after the passing of a loved one, we first want to say that we are very sorry for your loss. We hope that the information you find on this page will simplify any legal and administrative headaches you might otherwise face during such a difficult time.
With that said, probate in Texas is a court-supervised procedure that helps to ensure the legal transfer of assets from the deceased to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. Each situation varies on the level of court supervision. Probate in Bexar County is also necessary to:
● Prove the validity of the will
● Appoint someone to manage the estate (The “administrator” if there is no will or the “executor” if there is one)
● Inventory and appraise the estate property
● Pay any debts or taxes (including estate taxes, if applicable)
● Distribute the property as direct by the will—or by the state law if there is no will
In Texas, if someone has $75,000 in total assets (not counting their homestead), they will probably have to have their assets probated.
What’s so bad about probate in Texas…and what should I do next?
Many residents in Bexar County have heard that probate is bad news. It tends to be expensive, it’s time-consuming, and it’s also a public process. However, comparatively, in Texas is considered a “probate-friendly” state. What does that mean? It means probate in Texas isn’t as onerous as it can be in other states. And for our clients who choose to go through the probate process, we try and make it as simple and straight-forward as possible.
The easiest way to avoid the probate process is to plan; but if you are now in a situation where you must go through probate courts to finalize the estate of a loved one, the best thing you can do is get educated and get help to complete the process as quickly, and cost-effectively, as possible.
How is a Probate Started in Texas?
Although any beneficiary or creditor can initiate probate, normally the person named in the will as the Executor starts the process by filing the original will with the court and filing an Application with the probate court. If there is no will, typically a close relative of the decedent who expects to inherit from the estate will file the Application.
How is the Executor Chosen?
If the decedent (the person who has died) had a will, the person named in the will as the Executor will serve, if eligible. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve as Executor, or if there is no Will, then any interested family member or person can petition the Court to be the administrator of the Estate.
How does the Executor Get Paid?
This varies by situation. First, we look to the Will (if there is one), to see if the Will authorizes compensation to the Executor.
Could I Be Held Personally Liable For Making a Mistake as an Executor?
Being an Executor is a big responsibility. Texas’ estate code contains pages upon pages of complex legal rules and procedures that an Executor must follow during the probate. Also, there are certain deadlines that an Executor must meet in filing papers with the Court. If an Executor violates any of these rules, they can be held personally liable for losses to the estate.
My loved one had a trust…will we need to go through probate?
In most cases, no. If your loved one’s assets are owned in the name of a Trust, the family can contact a lawyer who will complete some paperwork and guide the loved ones through the process with ease without the need for court involvement.
Unfortunately, many people who have a Trust think they have it all taken care of. But time and again, family members’ of a recently passed loved one come into my office and they find out they are facing the frustration, expense and delay of a probate, even though the person they loved had a trust.
Why is that?
Often the Trust was prepared many years ago and was never updated; and often, their loved ones’ assets were not owned in the name of their Trust. That is why it is so very important that you carefully choose your estate planning attorney and have regular reviews of your plan and assets so the planning you do now works as planned later.
It’s why we do things so much differently than most other lawyers and law firms, here at Batsche Law PLLC.
What Assets are Subject to Probate?
Assets owned solely and jointly in the name of the deceased person are subject to probate. Often this even includes a house even when both spouses names are on the deed. Assets that pass by means of title, such as real estate titled as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship,” or bank accounts titled as “Transfer On Death” are not subject to the probate process. Assets that pass by means of a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or some retirement accounts, are also not subject to probate. In some situations, however, assets that would otherwise pass by title or beneficiary designation can be subject to the probate process. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
How is Distribution of the Estate Handled if there is no Will?
If there is no will or trust, the estate will be distributed according to Texas probate and intestate laws, assets are categorized into different categories, community real property, separate real property and personal property and then we follow the laws for each category. Talk to an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.
How long does Probate take?
The length of time of a probate will depend on several factors. Absent certain exceptions, it usually takes about 6 to 12 months before we can begin to make distributions. This widely varies on each situation. It can take up to two years or even longer for complex cases.
How much does Probate Cost?
Probate legal fees vary case by case. It largely depends on how much involvement you desire from your attorney and how complex the situation is, some factors that may be considered are, whether there numerous assets to be tracked down or found, whether there a need to negotiate settlements with creditors, how many benficiaries are involved, etc. There are also court costs and filing fees, document certification and recording fees, and property appraisal fees to consider as well.
Getting Help: Choosing The Right Attorney For Your Probate Case
The best way to ensure your probate is done right is to choose your attorney wisely. Do not assume that all attorneys are the same! Too many lawyers only “dabble” in probate or trusts. Don’t choose a lawyer who does probate as a sideline because these lawyers often blunder causing real problems for their client and their cases often take longer than an attorney who regularly deals with probate cases.
You don’t have to use the attorney who prepared the Will either! Just because a particular attorney prepared the Will, this does not mean that attorney must handle the probate, nor are they necessarily the right person for the job. You need to be comfortable with the attorney and confident that they are the right attorney for you. Choosing your probate or trust lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make. If you put in the time and effort to find the right lawyer, you will be rewarded with a skillful guide who will help you navigate the probate process.
If you are a past or current client of Batsche Law PLLC, call for a complimentary Post-Death Review.
During this appointment, we will answer all of your questions about probate and guide you and your family through the next best steps. We are committed to helping you administer your loved one’s estate as quickly and efficiently as possible, and look forward to relieving any administrative or legal burdens you may face during this time of loss.
At this time, Batsche Law PLLC only serves past or current clients and their family members with probate.
When a loved one dies it can be a confusing time in which you are in immense grief while also needing to make sure you handle all the technical details of locating assets, paying bills and making sure your loved one’s assets get to the right people, without conflict. We are here to help.
Whether your loved one created a trust to hold their assets, or did not, he or she did have assets (called the estate of the deceased) that must be handled with careful attention we can help you to do the right thing, minimize conflict and ensure the smoothest possible transition of assets.
When someone creates a trust as part of their estate plan, they must name a trustee to ensure the trust’s terms are handled properly. These individuals must carry out all of the trust’s instructions, and they’re legally responsible for doing so within the scope of federal and state law. Such duties are known as trust administration.
Serving in this capacity entails a huge level of responsibility and liability. What’s more, most people named as trustee will have limited, if any, background or experience in the legal and financial duties that come with administering a trust. In this case, Amanda, at Batsche Law PLLC can work with the trustee to ensure the trust is administered properly and all legal requirements are satisfied.
If there is not a trust or if not all assets have been properly titled in the name of a trust that was created, we can help your family through the process of estate administration, usually requiring a court process, called probate. If you are a beneficiary of an estate, or an executor or trustee, contact us for support in handling the transition of your loved ones assets as easily as possible.
Trust and Estate Administration
As a Personal Family Lawyer®, we work closely with the family, beneficiaries, and other advisors to ensure the decedent's trust assets are collected, debts are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the named trust beneficiaries, or to the heirs of the estate. Depending on the type of trust involved, assets may be distributed outright to the named beneficiaries, or they might be held in trust for the future benefit of the named beneficiaries. If there is no trust, assets will either be distributed outright to heirs named in a will, or by statute, or held by a guardian named by the court until an heir reaches the age of majority.
During this time, we may also need to have appraisals of major assets completed in order to get a clear picture of what the decedent's net worth was for estate tax purposes. Additionally, the title of trustor other estate assets may need to be changed to indicate new ownership by the named beneficiary outright or under a continuing trust.
All of this can be a hugely complicated and time consuming, we will will transfer assets as quickly and smoothly as possible, resolve outstanding issues, and guide you to be sure that everything occurs within the applicable legal deadlines.
Trust and Estate Administration Services
Below, we’ve outlined some of our most common trust and estate administration services. We can accomplish the following duties without unnecessary delay and with utmost respect for your personal privacy and your family relationships.
● Identification, collection, and determination of values of assets
● Payment of all debts, expenses, and taxes from estate and trust assets, with submission of regular accountings
● Advice as to disposition of jointly held assets, life insurance, and retirement benefits that pass outside a will or trust
● Notifying all heirs and beneficiaries of the trust or estate
● Communicating with beneficiaries
Our primary objective is to make this process as easy as possible for you, and minimize the impact of going to court, while also keeping your family out of conflict.
Trust & Estate Administration Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas
Batsche Law PLLC will guide you every step of the way. We’ll work closely with personal representatives, executors, beneficiaries, and other fiduciaries to ensure the terms of the trust are carried out properly. At the same time, we’ll make the process as understandable and stress-free as possible for the trustee.
At this time, Batsche Law PLLC’s Trust and Estate Administration services are only available to past and current clients and their family members.
708 W. Summit Ave.
San Antonio, TX, 78212
By Appointment Only
Have a question but not ready to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session? Send us an email!