Probate

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...

Walking on the Wild Side of Probate

A Family Settlement Agreement (FSA) is the closest most Probate Lawyers will ever get to off-roading. An FSA is an agreement among Will beneficiaries to, basically, disregard the terms of the Will. They can toss out the named executor, change the amounts they receive, and determine how the expenses will be paid from the estate. They can even deprive the probate court of jurisdiction. Wow. Bet the decedent never saw that...

The Probate Wars

Although Estates Code Section 55.001 is only two sentences long, it has spawned hundreds of court cases and been cited in more than 70 appellate decisions. Entitled “Opposition in Probate Proceeding”, the section reads as follows: “A person interested in an estate may, at any time before the court decides an issue in a proceeding, file written opposition regarding the issue. The person is entitled to process for witnesses and...

A Plethora of Probate Problems

It would be nice if you could compel your father or mother, your grandmother or grandfather, or even your distant relatives, to do the littlest bit of planning and leave a Will. Just a simple little document that you could use to timely open a probate proceeding and transfer the house and the bank account. Failing that, it would be a bit more messy, but still somewhat nice, if when...

Thoughts of an Independent Executor in Texas

Day 1.  Hey, we will really miss you.  Just found out you named me as the independent executor of your estate!  What an honor.  Really. Day 3.  Your funeral was packed.  I had no idea you had so many step-kids.    Noticed they and your wife didn’t sit in the same pew with your kids and your ex-wife.  Everybody was very friendly towards me, though. Day 5.  Talked to the probate lawyer...
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