Probate

Do I need a Revocable Living Trust?

Trusts In Different States Many people get invited to well-intended financial seminars in which the presenters push trusts for everyone.  Or they move from states in which they had a trust, and they think they need to replicate that estate plan in Texas.  But in Texas, we don’t all need trusts like in other states.  In many other states (like California), the probate system is more onerous than ours –...

Why You Should Not Write-off Your Elders

The Statistics Speak For Themselves Before you buy into that stereotype that all older Americans are demented, helpless and lonely, check out these statistics. Ninety-seven percent of Americans  over 65 are NOT in nursing homes.  Here’s an even more interesting statistic - ninety-one percent of Americans aged 85 and older are not in nursing homes. Ninety percent of Americans aged 65 and older DO NOT have Alzheimer’s dementia.  Ninety percent, folks.  According...

Special Needs Trusts – Planning for Disabled Folks

Many families are blessed with a child (or adult) who happens to have a disability. There is obviously some concern regarding that loved one’s care and standard of living once a parent or other caregiver is no longer able to provide for them. SSI and Medicaid Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid can help, but they are limited and require the disabled person to have very depressed levels of assets and...

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...

Roles In Probate and Is the 4 Year Rule Gone?

Know your roles.  They are key to deciphering your rights under contract and statute. A good example is found in the Texas Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Ferreira v. Butler case. Here is the background.  Norman divorced Linda.  He then married Patricia, who had children from a prior marriage.  Patricia died in 2006, leaving a will that left her entire estate to Norman. Norman never probated Patricia’s will.  He died in...

Guardianship: Abuse or Protection? Buzz Aldrin’s Dilemma

The rich and famous are not immune from guardianship, and neither are you. Take, for example, Buzz Aldrin. His guardianship case was in the news in 2018 not only because of his fame but also because of the unusual counteraction that he took:  he sued back. The contretemps started in a Florida court when two of Aldrin’s three children and his business manager filed a guardianship action against Aldrin.  Aldrin, age 88, responded...

I DON’T HAVE A WILL… SO WHAT? (PART 2)

Not long ago, I published Part 1 of this Article in which I discussed the State of Texas’s rules for how your property is divided if you die without a will. For many people, that division is far from what they want done with their own assets and possessions.  It also causes sticky joint management issues between children from prior relationships (or their parent/the ex-spouse), and current spouses.  That thought...

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...

Problem Solved – 85th Legislature Hits the Bullseye

It turns out that the Texas 85th Legislature was pretty creative with probate problem-solving. This should delight administrators and executors throughout our land. The first problem concerned that pesky law requiring a will to be probated within 4 years from the date of death. Some judges interpreted that to mean that the will had to be actually admitted to probate within the 4 year period – a process which required...

Ruling Tosses Common Probate Procedure

And then there were two. For years, Texas has had 3 basic types of probate for a decedent’s estate: independent administration, dependent administration, and muniment of title. The two administrations involve appointment of person or entity to serve as executor/administrator and then various required procedures. In contrast, a muniment of title requires only one hearing where the Will is admitted to probate, and no administration is opened.    A muniment of...

If You Ain’t Dead……

In case you were wondering – Texas doesn’t allow an antemortem probate.  That is a probate of a person’s will while that person is still living. There is a statute that specifically prohibits it – Estates Code 256.002 – which provides “ The probate of a will of a living person is void.”   There is a companion statute – Estates Code 301.001 – which provides “The administration of an estate...

The 4 Most Common Mistakes by an Executor for a Probate Estate

Serving as an executor for a probate estate can be tough. An executor has a duty to gather estate assets, settle estate debts, file the required tax returns, and distribute the remaining property to the beneficiaries per the Will.  Often that means wading through a lot of paperwork, dealing with family drama, and not receiving many kudos in return.   To add insult to injury, the executor is a fiduciary and...
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