Wills

How Changing Your Will With A Codicil Is Bad

How Changing Your Will With A Codicil Is Bad Here is a sad but true tale about a will change gone terribly wrong. Mary Jane executed her will on February 13, 2017. There was a clause in her will appointing her two daughters, Linda and Julia, as co-executors of her estate. Mary Jane died 10 months later. Her daughters duly filed an application to admit her will to probate. They requested that the...

Documents You Absolutely Positively Must Have in Place

Do not take a vacation, leave for college, go through surgery or get on a small plane without having these documents in place and current.  A will.  This document can be simple or complex, but it should not be based on a form that you download from the internet.  Because a will is so important, you should be extremely careful on how it is drafted and executed. Helpful hint: you...

Great Ideas for Families: Preparation Goes a Long Way

This may sound harsh, but you need to do more for your family than just sign a will. You should also leave them a map to follow. How do you go about it? Prepare your executor.  You should have a list of all of your beneficiaries and professional advisors with their contact information. Tell your executor where you keep your original will. Tell your successor trustees where you keep your original...

Dementia – Planning Ahead

According to the National Institute on Aging,  dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning (thinking, remembering, and reasoning) and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia is more common as people grow older. Up to half of all people age 85 or older may have some form of dementia. As Elder Lawyers, we deal with dementia from a legal perspective. Estate planning...

I Don’t Have a Will – So What?

Most people have a general idea that they “should” have a Will, but do they really understand what happens if they don’t? One of the biggest difficulties that can arise when someone dies without a Will is that the State of Texas decides who gets your “stuff.”  This may or may not be where you actually want your property to go.  If someone dies married, and there are no children...

Court Creates a Cremation Conundrum: Decision Hits Funeral Homes Hard

Cremations are hot, but a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court may have a chilling effect on the popular funerary choice. In 2016, for the first time in U.S. history, cremations accounted for more than 50 percent of funerals. Some experts estimate that the cremation rate will reach 78.8 percent nationwide by 2035. So what did the Texas Supreme Court do that could dent the increasing cremation market? Here’s a hint:...

Banking On a Final Resting Place – Perpetual Care Cemeteries Must Operate By the Rules

Cue the jokes: in Texas, perpetual care cemeteries are supervised by the Texas Department of Banking. The Department of Banking also supervises prepaid funeral contract sellers and cemetery brokers and (presumably in its spare time) trust companies and state-chartered banks. There are two types of cemeteries in Texas: perpetual care and non-perpetual care. The owners of a perpetual care cemetery have a duty to keep up the place – that...

X Marks The Spot – Valid Signatures For Wills In Texas

Rubber stamps, marks and initials: are these valid signatures? They are if you are signing a will in Texas. Let’s start with the basics. A will has to be signed by the testator (the person making the will) to be enforceable. There has been a lot of litigation over what constitutes a valid signature, and there are quite of few surprises in the resulting court decisions. The courts, which strive...

Foreign Probate

This is Texas.  We don’t give much credence to out-of-state judges telling us how to do things, especially when it concerns Texas property. While it seems incredible to most of us, occasionally there is a person who owns Texas property yet chooses to live in another state.  When such a person dies – most likely from making additional questionable decisions - then that person’s Will is probated in his home...

2016 New Year’s Resolutions – Resolve to Have a Will

In 2016, let’s get some things done. If you haven’t looked at your Will and ancillary documents (durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, HIPAA release, declaration of guardian, directive to physicians, appointment of agent to control disposition of remains) in the last two years, then pull them out and review them.  Don’t have these documents? Pull together the important stuff.  You should have a notebook (or at least a...

Why You Need a Texas Will

Texas resident?  Then  you  need a Texas Will.  Period. Texas has some really great procedures that save money and make life easier - if you have a Texas will.  It has a self-proving affidavit, so you don't have to drag in witnesses from another state.  It has a provision for an independent executor, who can serve without bond.  This saves the executor (the person who pays estate debts and distributes estate assets) from...