Probate

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...

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...

Revocable Living Trusts

A Revocable Living Trust is often used in  estate planning to avoid probate.    It is a useful tool in the right circumstances. Most people use a Revocable Living Trust to hold assets, such as a house or rental properties.  The person who sets up the Trust, and usually funds it, is called the "Settlor."    The Trust is "revocable" because the settlor can revoke it at any time.  It is called...

Who Inherits in Texas?

A beloved family member dies in Texas  without a will. Now what? Well, the State of Texas has an answer for you. In fact, it has already drafted the  will and is ready for a Texas-sized probate! Was he married at the time he died? If so, we divide the property into community property (acquired during marriage) and separate property (owned before marriage, acquired by gift or descent). If he and his spouse...
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