When your parents are doing their estate planning, they’re going to try to protect as many of their assets as possible. They would much rather their property go to their family as opposed to creditors. However, there is only so much estate planning can accomplish.
If they get to be a certain age or are diagnosed with a terminal illness, they may look for other options to protect their assets. A lot of people are tempted to start transferring property to other family members.
When it comes to cash, the law does allow you to make certain gifts while you’re still alive. There are dollar limits to how much you can give. If you exceed these values, you may end up having to pay estate taxes.
The same goes for real property. Some people don’t realize that if you transfer real estate too soon before you pass away, your family can be penalized. The property can even be sold to pay creditors.
Your Probate Lawyer in Houston Handles Matters Like This Often
It’s only natural to want to protect your family. You work hard all your life to make sure you can provide for them. So, when you find out your time on this Earth is ending, you want to do what you can for them.
The problem is, as much as you love your family, you also owe it to your creditors to pay off your debts. If they find out that you transferred property to avoid paying your debts, it will be a problem.
Whether you owe credit cards, loans or a mortgage, they’ll have to be paid off when you die. They get paid before any of your heirs receive their inheritance. If this means there’s nothing left for your family – so be it. This is the way the law works.
Your probate lawyer in Houston can help you with your estate planning. However, he can’t help you accomplish illegally what you cannot accomplish legally.
What Transfer May be Considered Fraudulent?
When it comes to probate, the court will use common sense. If something doesn’t pass the smell test, it will be examined. When you die, your creditors are going to expect to be paid. If the debt is high enough, they’ll have investigators check to see if any property was transferred shortly before your death.
There are people who specialize in these types of things. They’ll look to see what property you owned up to about 3-5 years prior to your death. If any of these properties change hands, they’re going to want to know about it.
These investigators will check to see who these properties were transferred to. If they appear to be family members, they can challenge the transfer. If they were transferred for $1 or as a quit claim deed, they may ask the court to include the asset in your estate.
Can Your Probate Lawyer in Houston Help Avoid This Issue?
Like we said earlier, your lawyer can’t help you do things that are considered unethical or illegal. And, if he finds out you did something illegal, he’s under an obligation to report it. For example, if you moved certain properties to avoid paying taxes, he may have to report it.
There are options. If you plan early enough, there are legitimate ways to protect your assets. Any property transfers you do more than five (5) years before you die will likely be safe from scrutiny. However, you have to make sure they’re legitimate transfers.
You also want to make sure you don’t hurt your own financial situation by giving all your assets away before you die. As a senior citizen, you may enjoy certain tax benefits from owning property. You have to make sure it makes fiscal sense to transfer these properties. Your probate lawyer in Houston can help you do this.
Contact a Probate Lawyer in Houston if You Have Any Questions
Most people don’t know the first thing about estate planning. Why would they? If you have questions or concerns about how to protect your assets, you need to call a probate lawyer in Houston, Texas.
Your lawyer can help suggest ways you can protect your property and your family. Timing is key. Once you know you only have a short time to live, it’s too late to start transferring property and cash.
Call and schedule your initial consultation with a probate lawyer in Houston today. He can help answer any questions you may have.