Estate Planning & Asset Protection

Clausen & Centrich focus our practice on many facets of wealth transfer planning – estate planning, probate and trust administration, asset protection planning, trust and estate litigation, charitable gift planning and related areas of tax, trust and fiduciary law. The Asset Protection and Estate Planning practice group performs vital estate, financial, and tax planning for clients of various economic and family situations, although the predominant part of the practice involves sophisticated tax planning. Our attorneys have represented a broad range of family businesses and individual clients ranging from those with assets valued at over one billion dollars to those with holdings of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Steven J. Clausen, who leads this practice group, has over 31 years of experience in this area, including over 7 years as the head of the wealth preservation groups in two large firms, and takes great pride in the prompt delivery of the following services that add value and deliver results for the Firm’s clients.

  • Wills
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Insurance Trusts
  • Dynasty Trusts
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts
  • Qualified Subchapter S Trusts
  • Incentive and Educational Trusts
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Spousal Access Trusts
  • Beneficiary Controlled Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Income, Gift and Estate Tax Minimization Strategies
  • Generational Wealth Planning and Counseling
  • Integration of Employee Benefits, IRAs and Life Insurance
  • Installment Sales to Grantor Trusts
  • Private Annuities
  • Self Canceling Installment Notes
  • Valuation Planning
  • Premarital Agreements
  • Powers of Attorney; Medical Directives


Asset Protection and Estate Planning

The attorneys at Clausen & Centrich advise individual and business clients in The Woodlands, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, as well as surrounding areas, about strategies for preserving wealth and transferring it to their families or their beneficiaries. Our clients have diverse backgrounds, professions, family circumstances and asset holdings. They include owners of closely-held businesses, senior executives of publicly-held corporations, individuals with substantial inherited wealth, professionals such as doctors, lawyers and educators and extended families with complex asset holdings and family offices. Our wealth transfer and estate planning for these diverse clients must be customized to individual circumstances and objectives. Clausen & Centrich delivers its skilled services based on the needs of our clients.

Our many years of experience have exposed us to a wide variety of situations and have taught us to be good listeners and to respond timely to our client’s concerns. Our clients typically want more than strategies to minimize taxes. They seek our judgment about the protection of wealth from creditors, failed marriages and possible fiscal irresponsibility of  beneficiaries. They want our views about the impact of wealth on younger family members and our suggestions about educating younger generations on wealth management and philanthropy.

Our estate planning work generally leads to the preparation of wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney, and living wills and in appropriate cases, limited partnership, limited liability company documents and buy-sell agreements. Our planning documents are drafted for the unique circumstances of every client and reflect emerging legal and tax issues, and, most importantly, are customized to fit the particular circumstances of each client.


Estate and Trust Administration, Probate Litigation and Related Services

Clausen & Centrich represents executors and trustees in their probate of wills and administration of trusts. Our clients include family members who have no prior experience with fiduciary roles as well as large and sophisticated trust companies.

Our work for these fiduciaries includes probating wills, assistance with the collection and valuation of assets, compliance with probate, estate and trust laws, preparation or review of income and estate or inheritance tax returns, special legal issues that arise during the course of estate or trust administration, and proceedings at the end of estate or trust administration to discharge the fiduciaries from liability.

The attorneys at Clausen & Centrich regularly represent clients in disputes involving estate and trust matters. We have appeared before the courts of Harris, Montgomery and Travis counties of Texas, as well as other counties around The Woodlands, Houston and Austin, Texas, and from time to time before other courts throughout the state. Estate and trust disputes can take a variety of forms. A few of the more common forms of case that we handle are:

  • Will contests in which the validity of a will is challenged.
  • Claims that one beneficiary has tortiously interfered with the inheritance rights of another.
  • Cases involving the interpretation of wills or trust agreement.
  • Claims by or against fiduciaries with regard to investment performance or fiduciary compensation.
  • Incapacity proceedings leading to the appointment of guardians.

Because litigation can be expensive, we work hard to be thorough and to manage carefully the costs of each phase of the case. We keep our clients closely informed about the progress of a case and give them realistic assessments (updated on a regular basis) about the probability of success.

In addition, Clausen & Centrich can provide the following services:

  • Representation of Executors, Administrators, and Trustees
  • Will Contests
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty Suits
  • Will and Trust Interpretation Suits
  • Removal of Executor or Trustee
  • Representation of Beneficiaries of Trusts and Estates
  • Service as Executor, Administrator or Trustee
  • Expert Witness Services
  • Creditors’ Claims
  • Determination of Heirship Proceedings

Other Trust and Estate Services

Clausen & Centrich regularly provide legal counsel and services for trusts and estates, including:

  • Preparation of Federal Estate & Gift Tax Returns
  • IRS Audits, Appeals & Tax Litigation
  • Income Taxation of Trusts & Estates
  • Post Mortem Tax Planning & Disclaimers

Charitable Planning

Many of our clients are charitably minded. They seek our advice about alternative strategies for their philanthropic giving and the tax consequences associated withit. We regularly prepare charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts. We help clients to establish private charitable foundations and to secure IRS recognition of their tax-exempt status, as well as advising about legal and tax issues that arise during the ongoing administration of such foundations. Additionally, Clausen and Centrich regularly provides the following services to clients:

  • Philanthropic Advice
  • Charitable Remainder & Lead Trusts
  • Structuring Charitable Gifts & Scholarships
  • Private Foundations

Contact us to arrange a consultation and learn more about Clausen & Centrich’s unique approach to meeting the legal needs of your growing business.