We continue to offer initial visits by phone or by Zoom. We have returned to in-office appointments for certain planning and signing appointments for current clients and masks are optional.
When filling out your planning forms, you’ll be asked to name agents, an executor, a guardian, and possibly a trustee for a minor child. Read on to learn more about each role and how to pick your people.
Durable Power of Attorney: Gives the person named broad power and authority to manage your property. This should be someone you trust completely to make your financial decisions for you. This person is answerable only to you and to a court-appointed guardian of you. This agent does not have the right to override your decisions but only works on your behalf.
Medical Power of Attorney: Gives the person named the authority to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to make the decisions yourself. Your agent is expected to make decisions as you would have.
Guardian (of self): Gives the person named authority to manage your assets and be in charge of your personal well-being should you ever need a court appointed guardian. Replaces the agents under the power of attorney, court may restrict your rights and return you to the same status as a minor child.
Example choice hierarchy: 1. Spouse, 2. Adult Child or Sibling, 3. Sibling or Parent
For each role, please name a primary, an alternate and (optionally) a third person to serve as your agent.
Your will outlines who you wish to receive your property, how they receive it, and who is in charge.
Executor: given the responsibility of securing your property after your death, submitting your will to court, and processing your assets to give them to your beneficiaries. This is a limited role and is over once all property is distributed.
Beneficiary: the person you name to inherit from you. May be any person you choose or an organization. Examples are spouse, children, heirs, or charities.
Heirs: your closest blood relatives, both descendants and ascendants (children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, etc.). The order in which an heir would inherit is set by Texas law.
Every will contains a trust to ensure that property inherited by a minor child has a trustee to care for it until the child reaches the age of majority. We will talk more in detail about the kind of trust to be used, whether it will be for people under age 25 or if it will extend their lifetimes, but use this space to think about who, besides your spouse or the other parent of the children, might be good as trustee.
Guardian of Child: should no parent survive, this person is appointed by the court to care for the body of your minor child. Should there be no trustee or if property is left to a minor child without a trust, the court may appoint a guardian of the child’s estate to manage property until the child reaches the age of majority.
Out of respect for each client, we work hard to keep your appointments within the length of time scheduled. Should we be close to the end of our scheduled time yet have more to discuss, we will need to schedule another appointment.
Cancellations: please call as soon as you are aware you need to cancel your appointment. Please read our cancellation policy for more information.
Late arrival: clients who arrive late will have the remainder of their appointment time available to them and if the schedule allows may reserve additional time.
Promptness: The attorney attempts to arrive promptly for your appointment, however should the attorney need to reschedule, we will do so as soon as your and our schedules allow with no penalty to you. If the attorney begins the appointment late, you will have the option of using your entire allotted length of time even though it extends beyond the scheduled period, paying only for the amount of time used, or rescheduling with no penalty.
Your appointment precludes us from doing work for another person, so we request you let us know as soon as you can if you need to cancel or reschedule, preferably 2 business days in advance. Appointments cancelled within 24 hours will incur an $100 cancellation fee.
We understand emergencies and we have them as well. Please contact the office if you need to reschedule due to an emergency.
Should we arrive for your appointment and you are not available, there will be an $100 cancellation fee.
Initial Consultations serve as introductory meetings. These appointments are limited to 30 minutes by phone so that you and we can determine whether we are able to help you. We are not always the right attorney for you and may decline to assist you for a variety of reasons including a conflict of interest (due to other clients) or because your needs are not services that we provide.
Planning meetings are conducted most often in person or by video conference and are billed at a flat fee. These meetings are a time where you and the attorney are gathering detailed information regarding your matter and the first stages of work occur.
The planning meeting fee is applied to the total cost of services once you return your signed engagement agreement.
We recognize that legal expenses are often high. The following payment policies are designed to help you pay the cost of the work.
All clients must put down a deposit, which varies according to the type of work you need. All deposits are held in trust until we earn the fee. Fees are considered earned when the first draft is done and given to you for review or when a milestone is reached.
Estate plans may pay in the following way:
Probate clients must provide a minimum $3,500 security deposit. This may vary depending on your matter.
All matters have access to Client Credit through LawPay. You may read more here by choosing “Pay Later”
Lindsey S. Drake $400 per hour
Emergency/after hours: $500 per hour*
Support Staff $150 per hour
Rush fees 30% increase on flat fee
Filing fees Cost to firm
Other Expenses Cost to firm
*Attorneys and staff have flexible schedules and may choose to work at any time during a day rather than on a set schedule. Emergency or after hours’ work is performed at your request and not based on the attorney’s chosen time. We may use this increased rate where you ask us to complete work faster than is typical; we will only work at the increased rate after giving you advance notice.
When you go to a typical lawyer, you pay a retainer and the lawyer bills for time. Is your bill going to be $1,000 or was it an especially busy month that will cost $5,000 or more? You don’t know until that monthly invoice comes out and you don’t know the final cost of services until the end of your matter.
Because this method of billing is stressful, we use fixed fees. With the fixed billing model, we find our clients are more relaxed when there isn’t a timer counting up. We want to be our clients’ resource to professionally answer questions rather than turning to friends or the internet.
During the case assessment meeting, we will discuss the scope of your project and we will set a price. This price is not the same for every project. While we do have base starting rates, your total will reflect your specific needs and level of service you require. You are unique and your needs are as well, so the cost of the service will match the scope of the project that you describe.
Consider what is at stake when you hear that total. We aren’t just protecting your hard-earned assets. Proper estate planning will save your family heartache, uncertainty, and sometimes lives.
Knowing what your cost will be in probate gives you one less stressor during a time of grief.
If this certain pricing model appeals to you, please contact us to schedule an appointment either by calling 512-524-3697 or schedule today online.
This section is designed to give you an introduction to the firm and an idea of what to expect from us, and what we in turn expect of you.
We are proud to provide personalized serviced to our clients, beginning with the first phone appointment to determine if we are able to help. If we are not, we will try to assist you to find someone who can.
The second step after the phone consultation is to set up a case assessment meeting. This meeting is about an hour long and can be held at the office or by video conference. For clients with mobility issues, we can also make house calls. We will gather details and strategize on your specific needs.
During the planning meeting, we will also establish the cost of services and sign the representation agreement to hire us. Deposits are collected and once both the agreement is signed and deposit is made, we have established an attorney-client relationship.
While some attorneys offer free consultations, we don’t because we believe free advice is worth what you paid for it. We strive to provide high quality information in each appointment. We also use fixed or flat fees in place of hourly billing.
To get started, call the office at 512-524-3697 to make an appointment or schedule online. We look forward to working with you.
I hope this section helps you to prepare for your estate planning meeting.
Estate planning can be both fun and intimidating. Clients are often uncomfortable talking about what happens after they die or are unable to care for themselves, but this important discussion and the documents we prepare are the last best gift you can leave for your family. Not only will we talk through the elements of your will, we will also talk about medical decision-making and financial management should you require assistance with either. The people you appoint to those roles must be trustworthy and willing. During our planning meeting, we will get into detail about who you have chosen and why, but it helps to have an idea of who you want involved before you walk in the door.
Basic estate plans include 7 documents: a will, a durable power of attorney for finances, a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA authorization, a guardianship declaration for yourself, a directive to physicians, indicating your life support choices, and an appointment of agent for disposition of remains.
If you have any minor children, we include an 8th document, a guardianship declaration for your minor child.
For each category or role, we always name the primary person and at least one backup. These may be the same two or three people throughout your documents.
In the will, you will identify your family, name beneficiaries and back up beneficiaries, appoint an executor, name a trustee, and identify anyone you wish to exclude from your inheritance plan. Each will we write includes a trust in case a beneficiary is under the age of majority, is disabled or incapacitated, or is qualifying for government assistance programs.
The agent you choose under your durable power of attorney will have broad decision-making power over your finances. This person should be someone you trust completely to make your financial decisions as if you were making them for yourself. This agent will have authority only during your life and the power ends at your death. We will get into detail about the agent’s duties so that you can choose wisely.
The agent under the medical power of attorney serves to make decisions only if you are unable to decide for yourself. This authority also ends at your death.
Finally, we will declare in advance who you wish to serve as guardian should one be necessary. A guardian is appointed and supervised by the court, and replaces your agents under your powers of attorney. A guardian may be required for when the power of attorney authority is no longer enough to provide your care, for instance if you revoke one without appointing someone new or if you are a danger to yourself or others.
Thank you for reading. Watch for a link to your homework and we will see you soon.
This section is to give you a little bit of insight into the probate process in Texas.
Probate is simply the transfer of assets after the death of the owner, the decedent. It does not have to be scary or intimidating where there is a will to probate, but when there is not, you should be prepared for a longer and more involved experience. Probate with a will is also fairly fast for a court procedure. Probate without a will requires extra patience as there are several times where we hurry up and wait.
The most common form of probate starts with an application to the court requesting that an executor or administrator be appointed and granted letters testamentary or letters of administration. If the decedent died without a will, we also ask the court to determine who are the decedent’s heirs according to the law. These will be their nearest blood relatives. Adopted children may also be considered heirs. Determining heirs requires investigation into the decedent’s family tree, usually accomplished by having two people who knew them testify as to the family history.
There are other probate procedures including a muniment of title, which is probating a will without naming an executor, small estate affidavit, and affidavit of heirship.
A small estate affidavit is limited and its use will depend on what kind of and how much property the decedent owned, how much debt there was, and how cooperative the heirs are.
An affidavit of heirship is popular with title companies and is a nonjudicial form of probate. It is a sworn statement signed by two witnesses and one heir declaring the heirs of the decedent. Because there is no court order, it is limited in its application, usually to the transfer of real property and vehicles.
Which procedure is appropriate for your case depends highly on the details, so we always schedule a case assessment to look at the available documents and arrange a plan of action. To get started, contact the office at 512-524-3697 to schedule your initial consultation or schedule online.
Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.