I enjoy sharing information with our readers to help them navigate the confusing legal process. Harris County, Texas has some excellent information about probate on their "helpful guidelines" page . This information can help you understand what to look for in a will, how property passes in the State of Texas if the person doesn't have a Will, what to do if more than 4 years has passed since … [Read more...] about Probate Guidelines in Texas
When a loved one passes away, cleaning out the house can feel like an impossible task. Not only is it difficult to know what needs to be done in a practical sense but it is emotionally devastating. Keeping organized is key. There are legal, practical and humanitarian considerations. First of all, make sure that any pets are fed, watered and taken care of right away. This is primary. Secondly, … [Read more...] about How to Clean out and Care for a Home After Someone Passes
"Family heirlooms" can present a problem when drafting a will or when dividing property in an estate. When I am helping clients with their wills, I have noticed that this is often a sticking point. They sometimes agonize over which family member should inherit an item, a collection, or a piece of land. Since I help Executors in probate cases, I also see how heirlooms are ultimately divided. I … [Read more...] about Family Heirlooms: Gift or Guilt?
So, you have gone through the Texas probate process and you are now a new Executor of the Estate. How much is going to be on your plate? What comes next? Here is what you need to know: The process doesn't end when you are appointed. In fact, your work is just beginning. You are a fiduciary. Under the law, you must act in the best interest of the estate and meet certain obligations in … [Read more...] about What Are my Duties as an Executor?
So you are finally going to get your will done. This has probably been something that has been placed on your "to do" list and moved to the bottom time and time again. Once you have finally decided to proceed, you've called the estate planning lawyer and made the appointment. Now, what to bring to the appointment? Option One: nothing but a notepad. If you have never had a will before, … [Read more...] about What to Bring to a Will Consultation
If you have recently been to a Texas probate court and been granted Letters Testamentary, you will be asked how many certified copies you need. How should you determine this? The first thing that you should do is to make a list of the property that needs to be transferred. Chances are that your attorney already has asked you for this information, probably at your first meeting. However, you … [Read more...] about How Many Certified Letters Testamentary Should You Order?
If you are about to have your will drafted, you will need to choose someone to be your Executor. Depending upon the situation, you may also need to choose someone to be a Trustee of a trust, or be a Guardian to your minor children. The same person may serve in all of these roles, or there may be two or three different people chosen by you. It is a very good idea to approach the person first … [Read more...] about How to Talk to Someone about Being Executor (or Guardian, or Trustee) in Your Will
We always tell people to consider updating their will if one of the “major players” dies, becomes incapacitated or estranged. In other words, if a named beneficiary (someone who is inheriting), an executor (person who will manage the distribution of the estate) or a trustee (person who you have named to manage a trust) cannot do whatever it is you anticipated them doing (whether it is inheriting … [Read more...] about When to Update Your Will