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Balancing the growth of assets while trying to reduce taxation

While there are many strategies to prevent an estate from being depleted due to taxes, too many individuals fail to understand the consequences that taxes can have. One financial planner called taxes "the biggest drag on returns."

Where there's a will, maybe there should be a living trust, p2

After a brief foray into celebrity probate, we are going back to the discussion started in our Feb. 13 post. The topic is living trusts and how they may complement -- or even take the place of -- a will in an estate plan. Remember, this is a general discussion. There may be nuances that exist in Texas but not in another state.

Where there's a will, maybe there should be a living trust, too

Most of us have heard it a hundred times -- just in the last week, even: Baby boomers are entering retirement. Approximately 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next 16 years. It is not too late for these soon-to-be retirees to establish an estate plan that will protect their assets and keep the tax obligation low. Many boomers, in fact, may relocate to Texas, because we have neither an estate tax nor an inheritance tax.

Avoid confusion, financial burden of your funeral with a trust

You may not know this, but Houston is home to the National Museum of Funeral History. According to the museum's website, visitors will see a collection of funeral service artifacts -- the largest in the U.S. -- and will tour exhibits about mourning rituals going back to ancient times. Visitors will also learn about the history of the funeral industry and get a look at items that were used in the funerals of presidents and popes.

The devil is in the details in battle over artist's trust, p. 3

We have been talking about Robert Rauschenberg, an artist who helped to shape the Op Art movement of the 1960's. One of Rauschenberg's most famous works, the mixed media "Canyon," made headlines a couple of years ago when its owners wanted to sell it. But "Canyon" features a large, stuffed bald eagle, and bald eagles are protected by federal law. Selling "Canyon" would be a felony.

The devil is in the details in battle over artist's trust, p. 2

We are continuing the discussion from our last post about litigation involving artist Robert Rauschenberg's foundation. Rauschenberg -- who was, coincidentally, born in Texas -- was enormously influential in the art scene, especially during the '50s and '60s. He was also enormously successful: When he died in 2008, he left behind an estate worth an estimated $600 million.

The devil is in the details in battle over artist's trust

A few weeks ago, the University of Texas at Austin lost its claim to an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett. The actress had left her art collection to the university's museum, but it seems neither Fawcett nor her estate ever catalogued the collection. The museum did not realize it was missing the Warhol work until one of Fawcett's friends pointed it out.

Living trusts may be beneficial to everyone in Texas

Most everyone in Texas knows that the central document in any estate plan is a will. A will is an effective tool to provide for family and even friends after death, but doesn't do anything for the maker should he or she become incapacitated. This is where living trusts can be helpful.

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