Death

Keepsakes As A Legacy

Treasure or Trash, Keepsakes Are Significant  “I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time is come I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.” - Mark Twain. Keepsakes are important.  So why do so few of them make it to the next generation?  In the context of legacies, keepsakes are significant because they bring back our memories of the departed. Let’s face it:  memories do not transfer...

What To Do If Someone Dies

The Body in the Library Clues to Your Next Step There are few things more disconcerting than waking up to find a dead body in your home.  It might be helpful to know what you should do next.   What To Do If Someone Dies If you are certain that the person is dead, then do not move the body or otherwise disturb the scene. If the deceased was enrolled in hospice, then call the hospice...

Cemetery Plot Sales and Laws

Picture yourself walking through a peaceful cemetery at dawn, light filtering through the leafy canopies of ancient oaks onto an array of crumbling carved gravestones.  In the distance you see a small mausoleum fronted, jarringly, with a white sign saying FOR SALE BY OWNER.   That’s probably not going to happen, at least in Texas where cemetery plots are controlled by a confusing mixture of state law and local rules.  When you...

This Is What Happens To Your Debt and Assets When You Die

Unfortunate fact: your debts do not die with you.  They continue to burden your property after your death.   This is a big deal.  Your creditors can go after the property that goes through your probate estate and the property that passes under beneficiary designation.  It is fair to say that your beneficiaries or heirs take their share of your property under the threat that it may be pulled back by a...

Five Lessons About Grief

A Personal Perspective This year the t-shirt was bright green with “Running Wild at Camp McAuliffe” splashed across the front.  In smaller print, just as it has been for the last 20 years, were the words “Tom Hammerle Rock & Run.”   McAuliffe Elementary School holds a run at the end of every school year to raise money for childhood cancer research.  Every student in the school participates and every student knows...

Handling the Homestead: Deeds and Death Part II

Today we revisit the sad saga of Carol (may she rest in peace), her grieving spouse David, and the Texas residence that was titled in both of their names as joint tenants. David, if you recall, had erroneously assumed that as a joint tenant he would automatically own their homestead outright when wife Carol died. So misguided. While the stars may ultimately align in such a way that David does end...

Coordination is Key: Poor Planning Sabotages Estate Plan

Suppose that your millionaire father tells you that you are the sole beneficiary under his will and then dies 2 weeks later. The day after the funeral you contact your father’s sixth wife, that woman-who-is-not-your-mother, and she tells you that you are going to get zero, nada, nothing out of his estate because there are no probate assets.  You later find out she received everything outside of probate. This scenario plays...

The Family Cemetery: Backyard Burial Wrapped in Red Tape

It is Halloween, which means that front yards everywhere are filled with plastic tombstones, monstrous animated spiders and tissue-ghouls hanging from trees. Which brings up an interesting question: why not have the real thing in your backyard? You could have your very own cemetery containing real dead people mere steps from your back patio.  Just think of the convenience for all involved. It turns out that, while family burial plots are not...

Coping With The Aftermath: Be Prepared for a Spouse’s Death

  Let us take a moment and focus on planning for the loss of your spouse. After a Spouse's death, will you be prepared to handle ALL of the aspects of living – maintenance, bills, relationships, calendars, investments, social and religious? There are some steps you can take now to make it a bit easier: Make sure your spouse has a will and that you know where the original is kept. If...

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...

Time Marches On | Probate Starts Immediately After Death

  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. The moment of death marks the end of time for the decedent, and the beginning of time for his or her probate estate.  After death, sometimes things have to happen pretty quickly to preserve the estate or evidence. Here are just a few of the actions that can take place. At any time after death, the court can order an examination of documents in the...

‘Til Death Do Us Part – Digital Assets Have a Life Of Their Own

  Ever wonder what will happen to your Facebook account when you die? Here is your answer: TRUFADAA. It stands for Texas Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which is found in Chapter 2001 of the Texas Estates Code and sets out the scheme for handling digital assets when a person dies or becomes incapacitated. TRUFADAA replaced the original Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Access Act, an unfortunate experiment...