A headshot of Attorney Robert Morris.

I have now been at Hammerle Finley for 30 years. In that time, technology has changed but people have remained the same.

Technological change has been dramatic. When I started, all legal business was conducted on paper. Today it is done electronically. Email, electronic filing, zoom hearings: all have taken over the practice of law. We have, to the greatest extent possible, gone paperless. Even faxing has become an outdated technology.

Benefits of Changing Times

This has been of great benefit to our clients. Clients deserve to know what is happening with their case. With email, we can send and receive information immediately.

Rather than drive to downtown Dallas, we can now do an uncontested hearing entirely over the computer. When the client or the witness lives out of town, this is of great benefit.

When I started, we filed a case by taking the papers to the clerk’s office at the courthouse. Now filings are done electronically. 

The Consistent Rule About Wills

One thing that has remained the same is the rule about Wills. The original will must still be filed with the clerk of the court to be admitted to probate. And, at least in Texas, there are no electronic wills.

What has remained the same is the clients and the legal issues they present.

People remain reluctant to confront the legal issues associated with their mortality.

We are all going to die someday, and you cannot take it with you. What you can do is make it easier for the people you leave behind.

8 Common Misconceptions About Wills

People remain uninformed and misinformed about so many things. Here are a few common examples:

  1. Wills do not take legal effect until they are admitted to probate.
  2.  Probate is much easier if you have the original will that provides for an independent executor and contains a Texas form of self-proving affidavit.
  3. You are not the executor just because you are named in the Will; the Judge must appoint you.
  4.  Just because property is held in two names does not mean that ownership passes on death by right of survivorship.
  5. Your spouse does not necessarily inherit everything if there is no will, particularly if you have children who are not your spouse’s children.
  6. Some beneficiary designations are revoked by divorce and other designations are not.
  7. Texas is a community property state. Property acquired during marriage out of your earnings belongs to both spouses; not necessarily the person in whose name it is held.
  8. Trusts work for property owned by the trust. Often, I must probate a will because the decedent owned property outside the trust.

Avoid Mistakes in Wills With Estate Planning

Some situations are more likely to create disputes which could have been avoided by proper estate planning.

Second spouses and children of the prior marriage have adverse interests. I do not think many people intentionally want to create a dispute, but they often do, just from a failure to understand marital property rights and to plan.

Siblings sometimes do not get along. This has a way of becoming a problem at the death of a parent. Proper estate planning can avoid most of this.

Attorney Robert Morris standing next to his accolades framed on a wall.

After 30 Years, Some Things Never Change

We have come a long way from the manual typewriters and paper files of my youthful lawyer days. But people and their behaviors – those will never change.

Attorney Robert Morris is an attorney at Hammerle Finley Law Firm, offering services in estate planning, probate, guardianship, estate and trust litigation, and Medicaid.  Contact him at (972) 436-9300 or schedule a consultation

The foregoing does not constitute legal advice.