What Two Aspects of Guardianship Litigation Do You Need to Consider to Make it Legal? (Part 1)

Guardianship litigation can get very complex, especially when you need to take over guardianship of a loved one you see being taken advantage of by someone else. Many families go through similar circumstances where a family member isn’t getting the proper care they need, whether it be someone elderly or a child. When a family member steps forward to be the guardian, they’re going to need a professional attorney that specializes in guardianship litigation to navigate this complex legal path.

We can provide that for you here at Ford + Bergner LLP. But guardianship is broken into two parts that may require seeking one or the other, or both, depending on your situation. This falls under guardianship of the person and the estate.

Seeking Guardianship for a Person

When filing for this initial category, you’re designating yourself as the one caring for the person in question. And it might look like a fairly simple process, though it’s not necessarily. While it’s a little easier than guardianship for the estate, you still need legal help going through the application process and the hearing.

In the application, we’ll help you fill out the appropriate information, plus gain access to the doctor caring for the person you’ll be guardian to. Getting information from the doctor about the person’s condition is going to be essential in order to prove they need your guardianship in order to function.

Afterward, we’ll help you through the hearing process. When we’re appointed as your attorney, we’re designated an attorney ad litem where we represent the best interests of the guardian and cared for person. This means we’ll be visiting the person you’ll be caring for in the facility or home where they live. We’ll confirm their condition and also confer with them so we can nurture a good working relationship in setting your best interests in motion.

During the hearing, we’ll help you through the bond process. This is a form of insurance policy by the court so the person being cared for can be reimbursed if money is taken from them. You probably won’t have to pay very much if seeking just guardianship of the person, though you’re required to put up more money for guardianship of the estate.

After successfully gaining guardianship of the person, you only have to file annual reports to the court on the condition of the person you’re being guardian to.

Important Estate Considerations for Landowners: Making Long-Term Land Management Plans

Among people who own property, many will own only the land immediately surrounding their house, such as the yards in front and back. However, some people also have ownership of forests or grasslands; this type of land may have belonged to their family across generations.

If you have such land is part of your estate, you need to make sure that you’ve addressed important issues about its future. For example, the Texas A&M Forest Service recently announced a workshop dedicated to helping private landowners figure out the best long-term arrangements for their property, including what to do with it after they pass away. Among the topics discussed are eminent domain, land stewardship, and property inheritance.

Why are these important issues?

Under some circumstances, the government (or agents acting with government permission, such as a corporation) may move in to appropriate the property. Sometimes it’s for a particular purpose such as laying down a road or extracting fuel from the land; other times it may involve simply preserving the land solely under government management. What options do you have for your property, now and in the future, in response to eminent domain?

Planning for the future of your land also means specifying how you would like it to be taken care of after you pass away. For instance, it takes work and expertise to maintain a thriving forest land. What arrangements would you set down in estate planning documents for helping ensure the preservation of the land? Have you had the land evaluated, not only for its monetary value but also to better understand how it can be cared for?

Inheritance issues are of course also important, and may get quite complicated. For instance, do you own the land jointly with any family members? Are you planning to bestow it on multiple heirs? How would they divide it? You might also arrange to have your property become protected land or have the government manage certain aspects of the land for you through conservation easement.

When you contact us to discuss your estate planning needs, be sure to mention the concerns you have about forest lands or similar kinds of property. You need to make sure that you’re making the most advantageous arrangements, in keeping with your best interests and with preserving the land.

How Might Your Beneficiaries Be Affected by a Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Inherited IRAs? Ask an Estate Planning Attorney

Money you’ve saved up for retirement and haven’t used can be given to your beneficiaries after your death. Among the retirement accounts you may have are IRAs (or Individual Retirement Accounts).

When people bequeath an IRA to their non-spousal beneficiaries, both they and their beneficiaries often assume that the contents of the inherited IRA will be protected from creditors. If you’re planning to leave an IRA to your beneficiaries, and you know they’re having some financial struggles, this exemption from creditors’ claims may be a comfort both to you and to them, to know that the money in the account is generally secure.

But is an inherited IRA really protected from creditors?

A recent US Supreme Court ruling undermines an inherited IRA’s protection from creditors during bankruptcy proceedings.

The Supreme Court case involved a woman who inherited a traditional IRA from her mother. The account initially had $450,000, from which the woman and her husband received monthly distributions. Nine years after she inherited the IRA, the woman and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, at which point there was still $300,000 left in the IRA. They argued that the money in the account should be exempted from the claims of creditors. The bankruptcy trustee and creditors disagreed, arguing that an inherited IRA doesn’t really qualify as a retirement account under bankruptcy law.

Ultimately, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the bankruptcy trustee and creditors.

Texas state exemptions can still help

When it comes to bankruptcy proceedings, some states have explicit exemptions for inherited IRAs. Texas is one of them. For beneficiaries who live in Texas, an inherited IRA could be protected during bankruptcy if they choose state exemptions (as opposed to federal exemptions).

However, for states that don’t have explicit exemptions for inherited IRAs written into state law, this money might be up for grabs from creditors.

Consider possible future scenarios with your estate planning attorney

An important part of estate planning is considering what might happen to your money and other assets when you bequeath them to beneficiaries. Sometimes, the efforts you make to improve the financial security of a beneficiary might not work out as you intend. To increase the chances that you’ll make sound decisions about what to do with your assets and who to give your assets to, don’t hesitate to contact an estate planning attorney.