Trusts

New 2021 Upcoming Changes To Estate Planning and Probate

I usually do not write about pending legislation because the language in bills can change at lightening speed and it is difficult to summarize a bill without partisan spin. This year is different. The proposed changes are so drastic and impactful on estate planning and probate that you need to know what is out there. The top 4 laws to watch are the federal estate and gift tax exemption, portability,...

3 Types of People That Can Sabotage Your Estate Plans

One of the benefits of practicing estate and trust litigation in Texas for nigh-on 4 decades is that few things surprise me anymore. In fact, some fact patterns occur so often that it is not unusual for me to have a sense of déjà vu during a new case consultation. Here are three of the more common situations that can mess up even the best-laid plans. The Manipulative Adult Child....

Disinheriting A Child – What You Need To Know

Disinheriting a child in a will can be tricky. You have every right to do so, of course, but your action will be seen by outsiders as unnatural. That is why you want to take the right steps to make the disinheritance stick.   While no method is litigation-proof, there are a couple of strategic points that you may want to consider. Make Your Intentions Clear on Disinheriting You want to be clear...

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...

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...

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...

What Is An Independent Administration in Texas?

(This is the second in a series regarding probate procedures in Texas) In California, probate of a will for a simple $1 million estate takes 2 years and costs $23,000 in attorneys’ fees.  In Florida, the probate of the same estate takes at least 9 months and costs $30,000. Then there is Texas, where the same probate takes less than 6 months and costs under $5,000. Can we get an Amen? Texas can...

Pulling off a Muniment of Title in Texas

(This is the first in a series regarding probate procedures in Texas) Going through probate is never convenient. For many families it is the first time that they hire an attorney. Add to that the timing, which often comes amid grieving the dearly departed, and the archaic court procedures, and it is no wonder that probate falls somewhere below limb amputation on the pleasure scale. The most common probate procedures are...

What is a Special Needs Trust in Texas?

How do you best support a family member with a disability?  Consider setting up a Special Needs Trust. First, a little background.  Many people with a disability qualify for government benefits in the form of SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or Medicaid.   However, both of these programs are awarded on a “need” basis, meaning the person can only qualify for the program if he or she has limited assets and income. For...
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