Wills

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,...

The Imperiled Federal Estate Tax Exemption

Is dying a taxable event? According to your friendly Federal government, the answer is yes. Let us ask a more meaningful question: is it fair that the government gets to take 40% of your hard-earned money just because you die? Class? What Is The Federal Estate Tax for 2021? We have a federal estate tax of 40%. Most people do not pay it because their estate does not exceed the federal estate tax...

Probate Homestead – The Right of Occupancy

Home. Your home is where your family resides. If it happens that your home is one on a piece of land that you or your spouse owns, then your home is considered your homestead. There is a lot of Texas law about homesteads. The Texas Constitution, the Texas Property Code, and hundreds of cases define homestead rights. That brings us to the subject of probate homesteads. For purposes of estate planning, you...

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....

This Is What You Need To Know Before Signing A Will

You can sign a new will at any time, in any place, for any reason. Whether or not you have the necessary legal capacity to make the new will valid – well, that is a whole other question. How To Make A Will Valid in Texas Texas spells out your required legal capacity in a succinct two-part statute. The first part is objectively verifiable – you must be at least 18...

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...

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...
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