March 14th, 2016

will and gavel (Medium)


I.Non-Probate Methods Of Disposing Of Assets Upon Death. Several ways exist to pass property upon one’s death other than through a Will or a Trust.The following are the most common examples:

  • Beneficiary Designations (Insurance; Annuities; IRAs, etc.)
  • Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Accounts;
  • Joint Tenants With Rights of Survivorship;
  • Transfer on Death Deed; or
  • Revocable Living Trusts.

II.The Probate Process And Property Ownership. “Probate” is the legal name given to the process of transferring titled property that does not transfer by a method in Article I above. The probate process, although complicated and confusing to many, can be reduced to the following:

  • understand the Will and ascertain heirs/beneficiaries;
  • locate and value all property;
  • pay the agent, attorneys, and creditors of the estate
  • resolve controversies between the beneficiaries;
  • file all tax returns; and
  • distribute the property.

III.Wills, Trusts, And Estate Tax Planning. A Will is a document of written instructions that directs how to dispose of a person’s property upon death.When a person dies without a Will, he or she is said to have died “intestate”.The attached Exhibit A illustrates how Texas law directs distribution of property when a person dies without a Will.

One important estate tax planning tool is a trust.Trusts have valuable non-estate tax planning attributes. A trust is a set of written instructions directing a person or institution (the “Trustee”) how to distribute and manage property for the benefit of one or more persons (the “beneficiaries”). The most common types of trusts in estate planning are:

  • Testamentary Trusts:Drafted in a Will and funded at death;
  • Living Trust: Created during life and typically used as a Will substitute;
  • Life Insurance Trusts: owns life insurance to provide liquidity for estate taxes or spousal/children support without increasing the gross estate; and
  • Gift Trusts: Designed to receive and manage assets transferred irrevocably to one or more beneficiaries.


IV.Estate Tax. The 2016 Estate Tax Exemption is $5,45,000 with a maximum 40% rate on amounts over $5,450,000. The Annual Gift Tax Exclusion is $14,000 with the Lifetime Gift Tax Exemption equal to $5,450,000.See Exhibit B for an outline of basic estate tax planning.

V.Transferring Real Estate at Death.Often real estate is the only titled asset that an estate must transfer at death.For this reason, many people overlook probate or delay post death transfer until much later.The following are the most common methods of transferring real estate after death:

  • Full Probate with Independent Administration (with a Will or Without a Will);
  • Full Probate with Dependent Administration (with a Will or Without a Will);
  • Probate as Muniment of Title (only is there IS A WILL);
  • Small Estate Affidavit (only if there IS NO WILL);
  • Affidavit of Heirship (with a Will or Without a Will); or
  • Revocable Living Trust (see below).

VI.Will vs. Revocable Living Trust.Clients may implement an estate plan either by utilizing a Will or a Revocable Living Trust.

Will: A Will is easy to implement because nothing occurs until death. We simply coordinate beneficiary designations, and the client goes on living. When the client passes away, we probate the client’s estate. Probate is a public record and takes about 5 weeks. The probate fees are approximately $3,000. After probate, we implement any planning set forth in the Will (e.g. fund the trusts referenced in the estate plan for the surviving spouse, then children).

Revocable Living Trust: A Revocable Living Trust contains the same concepts that you can find in a Will, but it adds three benefits that a Will does not provide, which are:

(1) Privacy. The client names the Revocable Living Trust anything he/she would like (the XYZ Living Trust). Then we transfer property such as the homestead, other real estate, brokerage accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, and ownership interest in businesses to the Revocable Living Trust. As a result, no one ever knows what assets the client owns.

(2) Centralizes Management and Control of Assets. If a client becomes incapacitated, we do not need to utilize powers of attorney. Instead, we have a successor Trustee to handle the client’s financial matters.

(3) Avoids Probate. A Revocable Living Trust should own all of a client’s titled, non-beneficiary-designated assets. We prepare Deeds to transfer real property. We work with the financial advisor, banker, and the client to transfer the bank accounts and investments. When the client passes away, the Revocable Living Trust dictates where the property transfers pursuant to the estate plan. We avoid probate of $3,000 upon the first spouse’s death and the surviving spouse’s death. Furthermore, we avoid probate in every state in which the client owns real property!



Courtesy of, and with the permission of:

Nicholas A. Dupre

Knighton & Stone, PLLC

202 Timberloch Place, Ste. 250

The Woodlands TX 77380

(281) 681-3004

Probate Assistance from the Legacy Team

February 29th, 2016

After 16 years in the real estate business, I have participated in quite a few different types of transactions, including nearly 20 occasions that have involved deceased family members as property sellers. Lately it appears that there are an ever-increasing number of family members and probate executors that have urgent needs for real estate assistance in these matters.

In particular the need to secure a real estate professional’s service to navigate the process concerning attorneys, wills, probate processes, estate and asset distribution, and the disposal of titled property, including real estate in particular, is a confusing and daunting task. Finding a real estate professional that is knowledgeable and experienced in these fields is particularly challenging.

Identifying and assembling a comprehensive group of industry and niche partners is a goal in which the Legacy Team is now engaged. The many component parts of legal resources, and necessary service entities, is crucial to reducing the family stress at this critical time. Directing the family to resources to assist in the property preparation and conditioning is a vital component in which the Legacy Team can provide guidance and assistance. And, of course, the eventual listing, marketing and sale of real estate are our primary functions.

The sale of real estate for the family in this probate situation requires preparation and processes that most real estate agents know little or nothing about. The Legacy Team provides free counseling and guidance in assisting the family to engage the process. We can provide your family with a definition of the terms and an outline of the process to follow to get the property ready to sell. Once prepared, the Legacy Team can list, market and sell the property and expeditiously route the proceeds to the family in the proper manner.

Should you have a need to discuss how the Legacy Team can help you and your family to navigate this process, please contact me at the Legacy Team to schedule a private appointment.


Patrick Welsh, GRI, MCNE

Keller Williams Memorial

950 Corbindale Road, Suite 100

Houston, TX 77024




Lakes of Parkway

June 15th, 2015
Click here to view property grid.

Lakeside Place

June 15th, 2015
Click here to view property grid.

Understanding the Termination Option

April 23rd, 2015

Texas real estate contracts allow for a Termination Option that gives the buyer the opportunity to do due diligence and, in not satisfied, terminate the contract. Here are the details in a brief video!

Termination Option Video



West Houston Homes in 77077,77079

February 20th, 2015

West Houston Homes For Sale $250 – 750,000

I love helping buyers and sellers in West Houston!






Click here to view property grid.

Why you need a buyer’s agent in your new home real estate transaction in Texas.

February 10th, 2015

All to often, new home buyers think they should work directly with the new home seller’s representative. They believe they are adequately represented and this person is caring for their best interest. In some cases they may have an extraordinary person who is a great deal of help. However there are several points to consider:

  1. The sales representative works for the seller or builder. The sales representative never represents the buyer. Their responsibility is to negotiate the best terms for the seller.
  2. Typically the sales representative is not a licensed real estate agent. As a representative of the builder, licensure is not required. A buyer’s agent must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Most Houston agents carry the Realtor title as well. Realtors must perform to a higher standard of performance and ethics to maintain their memberships in the National Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors and the Houston Association of Realtors. Your Realtor has a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate the best terms for their client. In this case their client is you, the buyer.
  3. The buyer’s agent fees are paid by the seller, not the buyer. The buyer’s agent performs without any cost to the buyer. In the case where there is no buyer’s agent, the buyer is, in effect, giving a bonus to the seller for not having to pay the buyer’s agent fee.
  4. Your Realtor is a trained negotiator who works on your behalf. The job may appear simple on occasion, and need not be, and should not be contentious. When dealing with builder, I love to ask the many questions that lead to seller discounts, buyer incentives, and title and lender concessions. These questions can lead to significant benefits to the buyer that might not be offered or considered by buyers who are unfamiliar with the process.
  5. When I represent buyers I typically recommend that they get an inspection of the property by a licensed inspector who works for the buyer. The inspector may turn up issues and concerns that the builder has missed. There is rarely a case where the inspection didn’t provide value to the buyer. These inspections rarely occur when there is no buyer’s agent involved.

The fact is that once the seller recognizes the buyer is represented by a professional agent, they often offer more concessions than might otherwise be the case. There is absolutely no downside to having buyer representation, and many potential benefits. Find a Realtor, and have them guide you, and represent you, through the process. Being properly represented can be a great benefit!


West Houston Townhomes and Condos 77077 and 77079

February 6th, 2015

I love helping buyers and sellers with Townhomes and Condos in West Houston.

Call me if I can help you!



Click here to view property grid.

Mortgage Loans and Pre-Approval

February 4th, 2015

Because I frequently work with buyers, I have a constant dialog about the mortgage process. Awhile back I recorded a video that may be helpful to many buyers in the early stages of the process:

Pat’s Help – Mortgage Video

At Keller Williams Memorial, we have a great in-house lender. Call me and I’ll get you all her information.





How do falling oil prices effect housing

January 28th, 2015

My clients’ question was: “What effect do you think falling oil prices will have on the Houston housing market?”

My answer was as follows:

We thought the falling oil prices would have a softening effect, and would drive prices down.

I took two listings in the past two weeks.
Both were priced at the top of the market range.
On the first, I had five offers in three days and contracted at almost 5% above our list price.
The second went under contract at almost full list price in three days – first offer in 2 hours.
If things are slowing down, we have not seen the effect yet. And this is the slow season!
Will prices come down? I think so.  Will interest rates rise? I think so.
Should buyers wait for the perfect time?
I think buyers should find the perfect house and buy with sub 4% interest rates.
We could see a sales slow down, but interest rates could bloom and overcome the competitive advantage.
Rather than speculate for long periods on what if’s, I think we should live our lives and enjoy the moment (low interest rates).
I may not be right, but I’m sticking to it (at least until I’m proven wrong).