Wills

ERISA – What You Need To Know

It took 4 courts and several years but, by gosh, justice was done. This story is about divorce, death, and money. Mike and Wendy married and then divorced. In the divorce decree Mike was awarded his employment benefits, including his life insurance.  After the divorce Mike logged onto the employer’s benefits system and tried, but failed, to delete Wendy as the beneficiary of his life insurance.        Years later Mike died. He...

Dependent Administration in Texas – What Is It?

Harold never wanted to spend the time or money making out a will. He was fond of saying “Why would I want to waste my money? It won’t be my problem – I’ll be dead. Let my relatives figure it out.” Hahaha. Good one, Harold. What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Texas It was only after Harold was dead, his assets were frozen, and his creditors were clamoring at...

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...

Run Silent, Run Deep – Silent Trust is the Secret

SHHHHH. Can we talk privately? It’s about the kids. I know you have some assets that you want to set aside for them, but…….. you’ve been worried. You don’t want the kids to become trust fund babies. If they get even a hint about how much wealth they will have when you die – well, let’s just say they won’t have much incentive to pursue an education or trade. I have...

The Words You Choose – Law Regarding Wills Archaic, Counter-Intuitive

Before you draft your own will, consider the cautionary tale of Mildred L. Ethridge. We will helpfully count the mistakes as we go. In 1990, Mildred drafted her one-page will. She did it without wasting money on silly things like legal advice. Mistake one. In her will, Mildred wrote that she made it “for the purpose of distributing my entire estate, real, personal and mixed.” She further wrote “I give Fred D....

The COVID-19 Hole in your Living Will – The Safety Net That Wasn’t

COVID-19 has put your Living Will directly to the test, and the results are not pretty. A Living Will, formally known in Texas as a Directive to Physicians, is a document specifying your medical wishes in the event you become critically ill and are unable to communicate them. In it you can direct whether you want artificial measures, such as a ventilator, used to prolong your life. There is a catch,...

Estate Planning Lessons Learned from Coronavirus

To get straight to the point, having an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for your peace of mind and the benefit of your loved ones. Unfortunately, it is also one of the things that far too many of us dread and put off dealing with until much later in life. But at Hammerle Finley, we firmly believe that it is never too...

It is Twenty Years Later – Do You Know Where Your Lawyer Is?

Talk about an aging profession. More than 35% of the licensed attorneys in the State of Texas are over the age of 55. Ouch. Just like other professionals, lawyers can retire, move, get hit by lightning, or die. If that happens to your lawyer, then it can leave you, the client, in a mess. You need to protect yourself from the unintentional fallout. Before we get to the steps you should take, consider...

Estate Planning for Young Adults – Why You Need It

If you’re in your 20s, just starting a career, living on a meager income and perhaps struggling to pay off your student debt, estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind. All things considered, however, it should not be. You may ask, why is estate planning important, especially for a young person? The answer is that estate planning is not just for the well-to-do and the elderly. It...

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

When individuals think of estate planning, wills and trusts are usually the first things that come to mind, but it is strongly suggested that you also consider creating a durable power of attorney as well. Life, as we well know, is filled with uncertainties. Completely unforeseen circumstances can place an individual in a situation in which they are unable to make or execute key business, personal, legal or financial...

Top 6 Legal Documents You Should Have In Place

A lot of people have some extra time on their hands these days. Being stuck in the house means there’s no excuse not to finally get around to some of those projects that you knew you needed to do, but just never could make yourself address.  If you’ve already done all the gardening, cleaning, and closet sorting in your house, maybe now you can take some time to get...
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