Wills and Trusts

Our estate planning is highly customized. We prepare your estate planning documents only after we have completed a thorough review of your personal situation. We want to know as much as we can about your family members and your familial relationships, as well as your financial assets and business interests.

Many of our clients are very affluent; and while we enjoy the challenge of working on the complex issues raised for such clients, we have invested significant resources to efficiently and quickly serve clients in all walks of life.

At Brink Bennett Flaherty, we address all aspects of your planning. We don't just prepare wills, trusts, or disability documents for our clients; we also ensure that the beneficiary designations of non-probate assets, such as retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance are integrated with your will or revocable trust. Also, we address the form of ownership of bank and financial accounts to ensure that assets are properly held in order to accomplish your estate planning goals. Next, we address marital property planning and separate property and community property issues. And finally, we attend to succession planning, buy-sell arrangements, as well as other business arrangements.


Probate

Probate is the legal process by which assets are transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs. In Texas, the probate process is simpler and less costly than in most other states. However, the probate process in Texas is not entirely without expense. We will work with you to ensure that the probate process is started and completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Receiving your appointment as an executor in Texas is the easy part, but knowing what to do after you are appointed is often confusing to the uninitiated. We will walk you through your duties as an executor and/or trustee, and we will provide you with detailed guidance that will enable you to fulfill your duties.

We will work with you to prepare and file all of the necessary probate documents. If necessary, we will also prepare and file the United States Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, Form 706. Furthermore, we will work with you and your tax accountant to prepare the fiduciary income tax returns for the estate and/or trust, and we will help identify and make any beneficial tax elections. At Brink Bennett Flaherty, we make probate as swift and simple as possible.


Fiduciary Litigation

Even the most well drafted estate plans can end up in litigation; and, of course, not all plans are well drafted. And that's why Brink Bennett Flaherty is prepared for nearly anything.

Our trial and probate attorneys have extensive experience handling all kinds of fiduciary litigation, such as will contests, probate litigation, trustee liability, and executor liability.

We work with beneficiaries, executors, and trustees to help them understand their rights and duties in these special roles. Fiduciary disputes and litigation are highly complex and require the skills of savvy trial attorneys with real court room experience and detailed knowledge of probate, trust, guardianship, and tax law. The attorneys at Brink Bennett Flaherty uniquely blend these faculties to handle your disputed will or trust, or other fiduciary litigation matter, in the best way possible.


Marital Property Planning

The classification of property and planning for the ownership of separate and community property is a key part of estate planning.

Marital property planning is especially vital for blended families with children from prior relationships. It is also important in any marriage in which there are substantial assets that were acquired before marriage or during marriage from gift or inheritance.

During the estate planning process, we will sometimes recommend that clients convert separate property to community property or vice versa. At times, we will also recommend that clients document the classification of their property in order to avoid disputes with their children or with other persons upon the death or disability of one's spouse. We also prepare marital property agreements, before or after marriage, to specify the rights and obligations of the parties during marriage and in the event of death, disability, or divorce.

The attorneys at Brink Bennett Flaherty have extensive experience preparing marital property agreements (pre-marital and post-marital agreements), community property partition agreements, and separate property conversion agreements. Our team would be happy to assist you with any and all of your marital property planning needs.


Private Business

Privately held businesses require specialized attorneys who are sensitive to the interwoven goals private business owners must face in the areas of tax, estate planning, and business law. At Brink Bennett Flaherty, your tax, estate planning, and business issues will be addressed together because we know that no facet of business exists in a vacuum.

Areas of primary concern to the owners of private businesses are tax planning and succession planning. As part of our private business practice, we structure business organizations to reduce tax and to provide flexibility for unanticipated events. Because the unexpected can occur at any time, we also plan for the death, disability, retirement, or divorce of a business partner with business succession plans and buy-sell agreements.

Additionally, we help clients choose the best form of organization, and we will prepare and file the governing documents for new corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships. Brink Bennett Flaherty also assists with the negotiation and drafting of documents for significant transactions such as sale of your business, the acquisition of other businesses, and long-term leases or distribution agreements.

Due to the specialized yet multidisciplinary practice of the attorneys at Brink Bennett Flaherty, we provide all of these services in a cost-effective and efficient manner by which the benefits of our services are properly weighed against the costs.


Taxation

At Brink Bennett Flaherty, we provide insightful advice to help our clients plan for and minimize tax costs. Our strategies sometimes require sophisticated and complex plans; while other times, we advise our clients to make simple changes that may have dramatic effects.

Whatever the recommended course of action, our clients can feel confident knowing our tax attorneys are extremely knowledgeable and are also highly effective communicators. We will ensure that even the most complex transactions and tax provisions are explained, using understandable language and examples.

At Brink Bennett Flaherty, we advise clients on various types of tax law including: federal income tax, federal generation-skipping transfer tax, Texas sales and use tax, as well as Texas franchise tax. We are prepared and anxious to assist you with your taxation needs.


Private Jets and Aircraft Services

Noncompliance with tax, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other legal requirements of aircraft ownership is commonplace as there is a widespread misunderstanding of these rules among aircraft owners and their advisors. Failure to meet the legal requirements of aircraft ownership can result in unexpected taxes, penalties, and fines - even personal liability. The legal requirements are complex; and, to compound the problem, there are few qualified professionals with the experience needed to guide aircraft owners through the legal requirements.

As proud members of this small group of experts, we at Brink Bennett Flaherty help aircraft owners comply with the legal requirements of aircraft ownership. We also maximize tax savings through expert planning and execution. Common issues and opportunities for improvement that we often help aircraft owners address include sales and use tax, property tax, FAA registration & ownership, income tax deprecation, as well as property & casualty liability insurance & owner personal liability.

The Texas sales tax applies to the acquisition of most aircraft (at a maximum rate of 8.25% of the purchase price), and it is commonly understood that if the aircraft is acquired outside the boundaries of Texas, then the sales tax does not apply. Widely misunderstood, however, is the application of the Texas use tax (that also applies at a maximum rate of 8.25% of the purchase price) for property that is purchased out of state but used within Texas.

Because of this, we help structure the acquisition of aircraft such that both the Texas sales and use will be eliminated or substantially reduced and deferred. The Texas Comptroller has a special group (the "Business Activity Research Team") devoted to collecting taxes from noncompliant aircraft owners. Periodically, the Business Activity Research Team receives records from the FAA to identify these owners. At Brink Bennett Flaherty, all of our transactions are made with complete transparency and disclosure to the Texas Comptroller.

Fitting our devotion to our clients' best interest, the savings from the elimination or reduction and the deferral of Texas sales and use tax always significantly exceed our fees. However, in addition to the sales and use tax savings, we can also assist with property tax compliance and reduction, as well as the proper ownership and registration of the aircraft to avoid FAA fines & penalties. The federal income tax rules related to aircraft are extremely complex, and we can help navigate our clients through those rules.

The operation and ownership of aircraft by necessity involves some assumption of liability. Through proper planning, we can help reduce this liability with a number of protections.