Beneficiaries

New Ways to Avoid Probate

Wills have been at the center of estate planning for many years. However, wills don’t take legal effect until the person who made the will dies and the Will is admitted to probate. In short, wills don’t have legal effect until you go to court. Frequently, clients will want to avoid having to go to court, whether for reasons of expense, privacy, or just discomfort with being in court. The standard...

4 Common Mistakes on Beneficiary Designations

Darn those beneficiary designations. They should be so simple.  They are not. A beneficiary designation is a “payable on death” or “transfer on death” designation.  It allows an account owner to designate a person or entity to receive the account upon the owner’s death. The advantages for using a beneficiary designation are well-known.  The account passes outside of the court probate process.  The owner can easily change the beneficiary designation at any...

A Discharge Dilemma: Successful Medicare Appeals are Rare

Here is a bit of information that you might find helpful if you are on Medicare and about to get inappropriately discharged from the hospital. If you are on Medicare, then you can stay in the hospital only if there is a good medical reason.   When your doctor, or the hospitalist if your doctor is not overseeing your care during your hospital stay, decides that there is no longer a...

An Informal Marriage: Are You Married?

Are you married? Amazingly, a lot of people cannot correctly answer that question. In Texas, you can be married formally or informally.  The formal way is when you sign a written declaration of marriage.  The informal way, also known as a common-law marriage, is when you and another person agree to be married, thereafter live together in Texas as spouses, and represent to others that you are married. The formal method is...

Expectations Lost Would – Be Beneficiaries Out of Luck

For many years now there has been a monstrous legal theory swirling around in the murky waters of Texas probate law just waiting to be formally recognized. On June 22, 2018, the Texas Supreme Court finally put an end to it with a well-aimed harpoon. What was this theory? It was called “tortious interference with inheritance rights.” The legal theory had been created by a host of disappointed would-be beneficiaries who...

Driving After Death: the Texas Beneficiary Form for Vehicles

There’s a new form in town:  Beneficiary Designation for a Motor Vehicle. If you own a vehicle registered in Texas, then you can name a beneficiary who will take title to the car when you die. How do you make this happen?  For now, you will probably have to stand in line at the county tax assessor-collector’s office to submit the forms.  You must submit the beneficiary form  an Application for...

The Lawyer as Beneficiary

In 1991, Mr. Olson was a Texas licensed lawyer.  He and his wife met Hope while she was a resident in a nursing home.  They entered into an agreement that provided Olson and his wife would move into Hope’s house and make improvements in exchange for receiving her house when she died.   If Hope recovered enough, then she could move in with them.   Mr. Olson prepared an agreement and...

Texas – Immediate Probate Actions

“He died with his boots on.” Admirable, but he left the rest of us to deal with his assets and debts. Where to start?  First,  we want to find his will and any burial instructions.  Since he didn’t tell anybody the location of  his documents before he rode off into the sunset, we’ll look in a logical place:  his safety deposit box.  The bank  may allow access without a court order...