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Becoming a Client

Serving Clients in Sugar Land, Katy, The Woodlands and All Throughout the Houston Metro Area Understanding the Three P’s of Estate Planning

Estate planning is extremely important for all individuals. Over the 40 years we’ve been helping clients devise effective estate plans, we’ve come to learn that there are a lot of misconceptions about the process—and understandably so. It isn’t every day you meet with an estate planning attorney. Thus, it’s common for our first-time clients to ask us how they should prepare for our first meeting. To help simplify the process and to get the ball rolling, we like to recommend our clients start off with the three Ps of estate planning: people, property and plans.

#1 – People

While assets are at the center of estate planning by necessity, estate planning is really about people and families. Thus, the first place to start when creating an estate plan is to identify a list of important people in your life.

Aside from yourself and your immediate family, you may have other, more distant relatives or charitable organizations that you would like to include in your estate plan (and perhaps those you specifically do not want to include). It is also a good idea to identify those friends and family members who have useful skills and may be willing to serve as a trustee or personal representative. In addition to important people, you may also want to identify important institutions and charities that you would like to support in the future. If you are a loving pet owner, you may even want to create an estate plan for your pet.

It is also important to identify people that you are concerned about. This could be in-laws that you are worried about. Children or other heirs that are saddled with debt, suffer from substance abuse or are generally really bad with money. A proper estate plan will provide and protect these people, or protect your assets from these people.

#2 – Property

Once you’ve compiled a list of all the important people, charities and institutions in your life, the next step is to assemble a list of the assets you own or control. At this stage in the process, there is no need to locate every penny in every account you’ve ever owned. Instead, think more generally about all your assets. Do you have cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.? What is the approximate value of each asset class? It is also important to make a note of whether you solely own the asset or if you own it jointly with someone else. Don’t forget to include often-overlooked assets like the death benefit of a life insurance policy, business interests, as well as any inheritance you may receive in the future.

#3 – Plans

The next step is to consider what plans you want to put in place for the people and property in the event of your own incapacity or death. Admittedly, this is the most challenging part of the estate planning process; however, it is essential to developing an effective plan.

Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • Who do you want to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t communicate your desires?
  • Would you want the same person to handle all of your affairs (financial, personal, and healthcare)? Or name different people for different areas?
  • How do you want to distribute your assets to your heirs?
  • Do you have concerns about an heir’s ability to responsibly oversee their inheritance?
  • Do you have anyone in mind to care for your minor children?
  • Do you want to facilitate the administration of your estate by reducing the amount of assets that must pass through probate?
  • Is your estate subject to federal estate tax?
  • Do you have a loved one with special needs for whom you would like to provide ongoing support?
  • Do you anticipate the need for long-term care in the future?

Of course, the estate planning process is intensely personal, and these are just a few of the questions to consider.

Reach Out to the Knowledgeable Houston Estate Planning Lawyers at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC to Schedule a Consultation Today

If you are interested in learning more about estate planning or long-term care planning, contact the dedicated team of attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We offer no-obligation, no-pressure consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will explain the estate planning process, your available options, and how we can help you and your family reach your goals. We represent clients in Houston and throughout Harris County, including in The Woodlands and Sugarland. When you are ready to schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning needs, please give us a call at (713) 333-8900. You can also complete the “Request a Consultation” form, and we will give you a call to schedule a meeting.

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Client Reviews
"In late February, 2020, I needed to file from out of state for successor Letters Testamentary in Harris County for my father's estate. The attorney I used, Ryan Cook, returned my call promptly, gave me the option of hourly or flat rate fee, explained what would be involved, then let his paralegal and other staff handle most of the contact with me. I worked with Crystal. She was very responsive and tech savvy. As the pandemic hit and communication everywhere was getting difficult and the probate court had limited access, these women continued to stay in touch and help me through the process, with us all working remotely. We were all experiencing a new way of being in the world and all three of them handled it with grace, humanity and efficiency." L.B.
"I would highly recommend this law firm because of their caring and professional staff. Mr. David Miller and Crystal Collins have gone above and beyond to help our family get all our elderly parents legal paperwork up to date. We are extremely appreciative for all they have done for us." A.B.
"I engaged the services of McCulloch & Miller to assist me with the difficult task of navigating Medicaid eligibility requirements for a close family member. I found them to be knowledgeable and thorough. Working with Darby was a pleasure. She took the worry and aggravation of dealing with a government entity off my shoulders. I highly recommend McCulloch and Miller for eldercare issues." B.S.
"We needed assistance with a Medicaid application and McCulloch & Miller were extremely helpful and expedited the paperwork promptly. We also greatly appreciated the professionalism, and caring manner in which Darby handled our case. If you need assistance, we highly recommend this firm!" P.M.