As an experienced and respected estate planning and probate lawyer, James H. Hard, Jr. brings a wealth of experience to this private law practice in Houston. His previous positions included employment with a national accounting firm. He then worked as a tax attorney and CPA for Exxon and later, was co-founder of another CPA firm.
His current private law practice has been operating since 1971. He draws on his vast knowledge to help clients plan for the future, avoid probate, and direct assets accumulated over a lifetime according to their wishes. He was one of the first attorneys in Texas to be board certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He began creating Living Revocable Trusts to avoid probate before they were widely accepted. Now they are a common planning tool. Trusts protect minors, aging adults, and the disabled from creditors and often from themselves. Mr. Hard believes Revocable Trust are not the answer for everyone. Probate costs in Texas have historically been cheap, when compared to other States. In Texas a simple Will naming Independent Executors to serve without court supervision can still be the best planning alternative.
An initial consultation at the law office of James H. Hard, Jr., Attorney at Law, generally lasts an hour to an hour and a half. If you take advantage of the opportunity to explore your legacy options with Mr. Hard, you can expect a detailed review of your assets, goals, and current estate planning tools. A nuanced exploration of your current and anticipated assets will take into account all existing and expected future resources that may be part of your estate or may be triggered by your death, including retirement assets, life insurance payouts, real estate sales, and other likely sources of wealth transfers.
A personalized discussion of your legacy goals will help you determine who your intended beneficiaries are and what charitable causes or other future investments you hope to fund with resources remaining after your end of life. Consideration of estate taxes, gift taxes, and creative wealth protection methods may be part of your initial conversation with Mr. Hard.
Enabling you to choose and create the right testamentary documents and investment strategies will be the goal as you undertake purposeful, informed estate planning.
The federal estate tax exemptions have increased from $60,000 when Mr. Hard started practicing to over $10 million at the present time. Many estates do not warrant a marital deduction or bypass trust. Estate planners created them for almost everyone when exemptions were lower. It may be that your situation is much simpler. In many cases, trusts are not as important for saving taxes as they were in the past. But the high exemptions expire in 2025 and revert back to what they were in 2017 (5 million instead of ten million.)
On the other hand, if a family member – or anyone who has named you as executor of an estate – has died or is near death, Mr. Hard is prepared to confidently guide you step by step through the process of settling that person’s estate. You may be a trustee responsible for administering a trust. You may need to take a will through probate. If there is no will and assets are not titled to a trust, you may need to pursue a court appointment to gain access to, and distribute cash, and other assets owned by the decedent. If there are no assets to pass through probate of a will or heirship, there is no need for probate.
Most people think their children will get along after they die. That is often not the case. It is usually better to have a will or trust that puts someone you trust to be fair in charge, if for no other reason than to keep an expensive fight from starting.
Your inquiry is welcome. Schedule a consultation and move toward greater peace of mind. The office of James H. Hard, Jr., Attorney at Law, is located on the west side of Houston in the Memorial area at 950 Echo Lane, Suite 200, one block south of I-10. To schedule a consultation, call or complete our online intake form.
Texas State Bar, 1965
U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
U.S. Tax Court
State Bar of Texas, Member Attorney, 1965 to Present
Houston Bar Association, Member
JD - The University of Texas School of Law
BS - University of Texas
Estate Planning and Probate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1977