Estate Planning Lawyer in Sugar Land

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For many of us, estate planning is uncomfortable because it forces us to think about our own mortality. A compassionate and well-informed estate planning attorney makes things go more smoothly. We address your concerns about your future and that of the ones you love. Lindholm Law, pLLC is here to help you protect your property and assets and to prepare you for life’s many uncertainties and contingencies.

Our offices are conveniently located throughout the Houston area, including offices in River Oaks, The Woodlands, Katy, and Sugar Land. Like you, our clients are successful and have reached that age when it becomes necessary to take appropriate steps to protect their families, plan for retirement, and prepare for a potential future incapacity. We understand that thinking about and planning for these things is sometimes overwhelming. But, rest assured, we have successfully helped hundreds of clients just like you realize their most important goals and plans.


Do You Need an Estate Lawyer?

A number of business owners do not know and understand the laws and principles of contract law and go online for sample contracts. Unfortunately, those free samples contain vague and boilerplate language which does not cover all of the items and issues that are necessary to protect your legal rights and interests. Business owners should seek help from an experienced business contract lawyer who can review, draft, or negotiate a customized contract to safeguard your unique business needs and interests. Axel Lindholm is an experienced contract attorney practicing in Sugar Land Texas, who successfully helps business clients with negotiating and drafting a wide variety of contracts.

Because you own or operate a business, it is vital that your business attorney draft all of the contracts you use regularly. It is also advisable for you to review and update these agreements or templates on a regular basis so that they keep up with changes in the law and your industry’s business practices. For a consultation with business contracts attorney Axel Lindholm of Lindholm Law, PLLC, call (281) 220-6736 today or use our contact form.

If any of these scenarios apply to you, then you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney for advice and guidance. Failure to plan properly may result in a situation where legal fees and taxes will consume the largest portion of your estate. Do any of these apply to you?

  • Second marriage (or more)
  • A “blended family”
  • Recently divorced
  • Recently lost a spouse or close family member
  • Own business
  • Own multiple parcels of real property (especially if in two or more states)
  • Have a family member with a disability
  • Have minor children
  • Have a child with concerns
  • Do not have children
  • Wish to leave all or some of your estate to a favorite charity
  • Have substantial balances in your 401(k)s and/or IRAs
  • Have a taxable estate

We Are Specialists

Lindholm Law, PLLC specializes in estate planning and related issues. When attorney Axel Lindholm first got into the practice of law, he began with estate planning. To this day, estate planning forms a core aspect of Lindholm Law’s practice. Having completed estate planning for countless families, Axel has rich and deep experience in the things that matter most to you. We know that the work we do together will help you make all of the crucial decisions that will impact you and your family forever. Because of the importance of this work, we do our best to treat you with the utmost respect and concern. In fact, many of our friends started out as clients.

You can trust us to make sure all the “t’” are crossed and the “I’s” are dotted in all of our work. We routinely re-read your documents and make sure they stay current and always available for use when they are needed.

We almost always charge a flat or fixed fee to eliminate the stress of uncertain and unpredictable legal costs.

We Value your Time and Privacy

We understand it is often difficult to commit time to meeting with an estate planning attorney. For extra-care clients, Lindholm Law offers in-home and/or hospital visits as well as on the phone consultations.

Your estate plan contains many intimate and private details. At Lindholm Law, PLLC, we recognize this important principal and will never reveal information concerning you or your estate planning, including to other family members, without your explicit consent.

Estate Planning Documents You Need in Texas

These are the essential estate planning documents in Texas. We listen carefully to your unique situation, objectives, what is important to you, discuss your options with you, and then prepare your estate planning documents.

After we discuss your unique needs and circumstances together, we carefully prepare your detailed estate planning documents in accordance with your wishes and instructions.

Estate planning is concerned with several key objectives:

1. Asset Protection. Protecting your property from creditors. If you or your family member is sued or you accrue significant debt, the next step is for such creditor to obtain your money or property. Properly drafted and executed estate planning places obstacles or walls in the way to make it more difficult for creditors to obtain your hard earned assets.

2. Divorce Protection. Retaining your property in the bloodline. In a community property state such as Texas, all marital property is presumed to be community property (owned more-or-less ½ by each spouse) unless one spouse can directly trace the origin of their assets. The reality is most devisees of inheritances comingle their inherited assets, essentially ensuring the inherited assets to be community property. As result, your child or grandchild’s inherited assets can be split in a divorce proceeding. Estate planning helps to ensure inherited assets remain in the bloodline for multiple generations and away from divorce decrees.

3. Tax. Preventing Tax. Taxes come in the form of income tax, gift tax, estate tax, and generation skipping tax. The highest form of tax is often the estate tax (sometimes known as the ‘death tax’), which applies when high net worth individuals pass away. Proper estate planning can lessen (or in some cases) eliminate these taxes altogether.


Your Last Will and Testament operates to dispose of your assets upon your death. Given that most people own some type of property, a Will is unique in being a legal document nearly every single person should have. A typical Will have the following provisions:

· Burial/Cremation Wishes. If you desire to be buried/cremated or have other requests for your bodily remains, you may make these wishes known in your Will.

· Appointment of Executor. The Executor is the person you trust to take possession of your assets upon your death, pay any final expenses/creditors, and distribute the remaining assets in accordance with your wishes.

· Appointment of Trustee. If your Will creates trusts for your beneficiaries, such as your children, your Will should designate who the Trustee will be. The Trustee is the person/institution serving as “gate keeper” for the funds. For example, if your Will creates a lifetime trust for your child upon your death, the designated Trustee will be the person your child goes to when he/she needs funds from the trust.

· Appointment of Guardians. If you have minor children, your Will may designate who you would like to be appointed as the children’s legal guardian(s) if you die when your children are still minors. Appointing the guardians in your Will can help resolve a costly guardianship contest after your death if multiple family members disagree on who is best fit to serve.

· Disposition of Remains. Finally, your Will contains the plan for distributing your assets upon your death. The distribution provisions of Wills vary in complexity depending on several factors such as what type of assets you own, how many beneficiaries there will be, and how much property any one individual is inheriting.

To generalize the type of Wills Lindholm Law drafts, 90% will fall into 1 of the 3 following categories:

1. Starter Wills (Level 1). When the first spouse dies, this Will transfers everything outright to the surviving spouse. Upon the second spouse’s death, the Will transfers everything remaining from both spouses to the children, outright. The children (or descendants) will then own their inheritance outright. With an outright inheritance, the children’s assets WILL be vulnerable to creditors and divorces.

2. Asset Protection Wills (Level 2). As with the starter Will, this Will transfers everything outright to the surviving spouse upon the first spouse’s death. However, at the second spouse’s death, this Will transfers the remaining property to lifetime trusts for each child (or descendant). Now, the child’s inheritance is protected for the child’s lifetime from creditors/divorces. Upon a child’s death, their trust terminates and transfers their remaining inheritance to a new trust(s) for their own children (IE the grandchildren). I recommend this Will anytime any 1 child/recipient is receiving more than $500,000 in inheritance. Thus while I would recommend this Will for a married couple with a net worth of $500,000 and 1 child, I would not recommend it for a married couple with a net worth of $1,000,000 and 5 children.

3. Asset Protection and Estate Tax Wills (Level 3). This Will does everything the Level 2 Will does but also helps to prevent/eliminate estate taxes. Currently, the estate tax exemption is $11 million per individual as result of the 2018 tax reform. However, the heightened exemption is set to reduce in ½ upon the expiration of the tax reform 2025. From a conservative planning perspective, I recommend this Will for a married couple with a net worth close to $5 million.

Aside from the 90% described above, other common Will provisions include:

· Special Needs Planning. If your spouse or one of your children is disabled/special needs, your Will can create a special needs trust which protects the person’s inheritance, qualifies him/her for government benefits, and prevents the government ‘claw-back’ of assets at their death.

· Foreign Citizen Planning. If you are a non-US citizen and you own property/assets within the United States, special planning must be implemented in your Will to prevent the heightened foreign-citizen estate tax. Whereas US citizens don’t incur estate tax unless their net worth is above $11 million, non-citizens incur estate tax once their estate reaches just $60,000 in the event the IRS concludes you are a non-resident at the time of your death. A special QDOT (Qualified Domestic Trust) in the Will can resolve this tax trap.

Revocable Living Trusts.

A revocable living trust is an alternative to a Will. Both documents contain your estate plan. You may think of a Will and revocable living trust as you would a soft cover versus a hard cover book. While the inside contains the same information, the outside of a hard cover book gives you an added benefit.

The added benefits of a revocable living trust include:

1. Preventing Probate. For a Will to be enforced, we must enter the Will into probate with a local probate judge and the judge appoints the executor. The probate process takes 1-2 months and costs anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 in most cases in Texas. With a revocable living trust, we skip this part and the successor trustee is able to take over as soon as the grantor dies.

2. Privacy. Probate records are public record, including postings of the estate inventory (list of assets). Since a revocable living trust bypasses the probate process, none of the documents, nor a list of the assets are made public.

3. Preventing Contests. Will contests are more likely to occur with a Will as the documents are made part of the public record and easily accessible. Since a revocable living trust is not published or otherwise made public, it is more difficult for an aggrieved party to contest.

4. Elder Care. A revocable living trust can be helpful with elderly individuals, especially those who are close to becoming incapacitated. The trust agreement can provide for the succession of trusteeship from the grantor (the elder) to the next generation immediately or upon them becoming incapacitated. For example, a 85 year old widow can appoint her son as trustee which would allow him to utilize her remaining assets for her well being and preventing fraud against his mother.


Personal Holding Companies

Personal holding companies, such as limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships (LPs) are utilized to limit your liability to creditors.

LLCs/LPs are extremely useful for those who own non-homestead real estate, whether the real estate is raw land, rental property, or commercial property. When an accident occurs, the litigator’s first target is the property owner. In Texas and other states, even trespassers have rights and landowners owe them a certain duty pertaining to the safety of the property. Many investors in real estate make the mistake of owning the property in their individual name. By owning the property individually, a law suit involving the property can potentially collect judgement against all of the property owner’s assets. With real estate, we plug this trap by creating an LLC or LP and transferring title of the property to the entity. Now, a successful litigant cannot recover other assets owned by the individual.

LLCs/LPs are similarly useful for transferring ownership of large liquid accounts such as stock brokerage accounts. By placing your liquid assets in an LLC/LP, you are placing legal obstacles in the way of potential creditors in the event you are ever sued.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document whereby a person (the principal) appoints a second person (the agent) to act on their behalf for certain matters. Powers of attorney are usually divided into 2 separate documents, a financial and medical power of attorney.

The financial power of attorney allows your agent to make various financial decisions on your behalf, including but not limited to accessing bank accounts, selling stocks, selling real estate, and signing your tax return. You may limit the power of attorney to be as broad or as narrow as you would like (such as only giving an agent the power to access bank accounts).Typically, clients name their spouse as the primary power of attorney and then 1-2 alternate agents in the event the other spouse is not around.

The medical power of attorney allows your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated. Common issues to be decided include picking what hospital you are in, what type of medicine/treatment you receive, and what medication you will be administered.

The medical power of attorney is typically supplemented with a living will, sometimes known as the directive to physicians. The living will is a document whereby you make your wishes known regarding end of life care in the event you are incapacitated and in an terminal and/or irreversible condition. The living will authorizes your medical power of attorney to remove you off life support if certain conditions are met. This document is helpful in taking the burden off your family members regarding life support and can prevent contests (including costly legal battles) over life support.

Both financial and medical powers of attorney are especially useful for families with adult children in college. As the children are now adults, parents often run into roadblocks, such as HIPAA issues if their child becomes hospitalized and is unable to verbally give consent to allow their parents access. By having the child execute a power of attorney, the parent is able to make decisions and to learn information regarding their child in the event they are ever hospitalized.

The appointment of guardian is a document similar to the power of attorney and allows you to designate who you would like to become your guardian IF the need were to ever arise. A guardian is always appointed by a local probate judge but your designation plays a big part in the decision of who to appoint. A need for guardianship arises in more extreme cases, such as developing dementia or by having a major physical disability from a stroke or other condition. Since the guardian has access to all of a person’s financials, it is ripe for abuse if the wrong person becomes guardian. By appointing the guardian today, we are able to prevent fiduciary abuse by a “bad apple”.

Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)

An irrevocable life insurance trust (or ILIT) is an advanced type of trust for high net worth individuals. An ILIT works like this: While they are living, an individual creates an irrevocable life insurance trust and either transfers ownership of a life insurance policy on their life to the trust or an amount of cash to the trust to allow the trust to pay for an insurance policy. The beneficiary of the ILIT is typically the spouse or the children (in the case of a second to die policy). The benefits of the ILIT are:

· By transferring the cash or policy into the ILIT and out of your own name, such policy/cash is protected from your creditors. Individuals with high liquid assets can thus protect such assets by contributing them to an ILIT for the benefit of a family member, such as a child.

· At your death, the IRS will not include the value of the policy, including the pay out in determining the value of your estate for estate tax purposes. Accordingly, ILITs can be utilized with high value insurance policies to lower or eliminate estate tax burdens.

Other Estate Planning Issues in Sugar Land TX

After you begin working with attorney Axel Lindholm at Lindholm Law, PLLC you may be pleased to discover that we can apply our knowledge and experience to help you with all of these other estate planning matters:

• Elder law

• Medicaid applications and preparation

• Asset protection

• Long-term care

• Special needs trusts

• Spendthrift trusts

• Pet trusts

• Gun trusts

Contact an Experienced Business Lawyer In Sugar Land Texas Today

No matter your estate planning needs, attorney Axel Lindholm and Lindholm Law, PLLC will meet them with care and compassion. We are accessible, responsive, and give straightforward and frank advice. You can call us at (281) 220-6736 or contact us using this form. You will be glad and relieved that you did.

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