Estate Planning

What Can I Do For My Grandchildren?

You have raised your children, they are successful and self-sufficient, and you want to share your wealth with someone who needs assistance.   Estate planning probably should be called people planning. We are not really planning for the estate, we are planning for people. For many of us, our favorite people are our grandchildren. What Are The 3 Estate Planning Tools? There are three common estate(people) planning tools that can be used to...

Is My Will Valid In Another State?

Lyndon B. Johnson once said that our country is “Not merely a nation but a nation of nations.” Perhaps that is never more clearly noted as when you move from one state to another. The geographic and historical differences of the various states and their peoples shape their individual laws. But one difficulty with that diversity is that there is not one shared body of law with regard to...

Doctrine of Exoneration – Legal Definition & What You Need To Know

Sometimes the law changes and an existing document, such as a will, is caught right in the middle. Consider the saga of the common-law Doctrine of Exoneration. What Is A Doctrine of Exoneration? The Doctrine of Exoneration addresses who is responsible for paying the debt attached to an inherited asset if the will is otherwise silent. Suppose John Smith, a single man, owns a house with a mortgage. John wants his...

10 Most Common Estate Planning Questions

Estate planning is the process of making a plan for how your property will pass to your intended beneficiaries at your death. It’s a rather big part of “adulting.”  It may seem unpleasant to talk about, but it’s crucial for people to address. That’s because, if you don’t do it yourself, the State of Texas will step in and do it for you. And honestly, most people don’t like...

Contesting A Will in Texas | Be Careful What You Do

Can a comic valentine lead to a will contest? You bet. The year was 1896. Deep in the heart of Texas, a certain elderly woman received an unsigned comic valentine. According to the appellate court opinion (which we will liberally quote because of its picturesque language) the card was intended as a “burlesque” upon the woman and was “calculated to incite in her a high degree of mortification and shame.” What...

Occupational Living Will – What You Need To Know

Somewhere around age 60, most people start worrying about mental decline. That is not surprising since we see it all around us. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of adults 65 and older suffer from cognitive impairment and at least 10% suffer from dementia. At the same time, adults are working longer. Forty percent of people 55 and older are still working, compared with only 29 percent in 1993. Expect...

Affidavit of Heirship – What Is It?

(This is the final in a series of articles about Texas probate.) There are very few types of documents that are as misunderstood as the Affidavit of Heirship. Perhaps that is because the same name is commonly used to describe two different documents. There is the Affidavit of Heirship, also known as the Affidavit of Facts Concerning the Identity of Heirs, that is described in the Estates Code, and then there...

ERISA – What You Need To Know

(This is the fourth in a series regarding probate procedures in Texas.) It took four courts and several years but, by gosh, justice was done in the case of Hennig v. Didyk. This story is about divorce, death and money. Matt and Wendy married and then divorced. In the divorce decree, Matt was awarded his employment benefits, including his life insurance. After the divorce, Matt logged onto the employer’s benefits system...

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage… Or does it?

By Kendra Rey Just what is your relationship with your Valentine?  In this month of l’amour, do you know if that person you are cozying up with is your spouse or just a close friend? And what is the legal effect of that? (Leave it to a lawyer to make “Love” something debatable!) If you have gone through a ceremonial marriage with your significant other, then you know you have a...

Dependent Administration in Texas – What Is It?

Harold never wanted to spend the time or money making out a will. He was fond of saying “Why would I want to waste my money? It won’t be my problem – I’ll be dead. Let my relatives figure it out.” Hahaha. Good one, Harold. What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Texas It was only after Harold was dead, his assets were frozen, and his creditors were clamoring at...

How To Revoke Power of Attorney in Texas

Most relationships change over time. Woody Allen summed it up nicely in the movie Annie Hall: “A relationship, I think, is, is like a shark, you know, it has to constantly move forward or it dies, and I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”   If your relationship with an agent you named in your Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) has turned into a dead shark,...

Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act – What Is It?

No Thanksgiving would be complete without sending up a big thanks to Congress for the Garn-St. Germain Act.   What? You’ve never heard of Garn -St. Germain? Grab yourself a cup of coffee and settle into a comfortable chair. This is one story you want to hear. Why Did The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act get Passed? It starts back in 1982 with a seemingly-innocent little paragraph known as the “due-on-sale clause.” This...
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