What are the first steps in settling a loved one’s estate? Whether the foundation of your loved one’s estate plan was a will or a trust, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a probate attorney relatively soon after the death – within a few weeks, if possible. And, you’ll want to gather the following paperwork to take with you to the appointment. Estate Planning Documents: If there’s a will, you’ll need the original, plus any original codicils. If there’s a trust, a copy of the trust … [Read more...] about Essential Paperwork for Settling an Estate
How do you know if someone is of sound mind when he or she makes a Will? And, if you don’t think that a loved one was of sound mind when his or her Will was made, can you challenge the Will? The legal term for being of sound mind is “testamentary capacity”, and there are a number of elements that go into having testamentary capacity. A person can challenge a Will on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity. In order to do this, he or she has to prove that one of these elements was missing … [Read more...] about Challenging a Will: Lack of Capacity
If you own real property or certain types of tangible personal property outside of Texas, your loved ones could be in for an added complication when it comes to settling your estate. In this situation, not only is any Texas property titled in your name subject to probate here at home, but certain out-of-state property will have to go through a probate process – called Ancillary Probate – in the state where it’s located. If you plan ahead, there are ways to avoid Ancillary Probate. Here are a … [Read more...] about Avoiding Ancillary Probate
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, and the experience can be all the more difficult when you don’t receive the inheritance you were expecting. Estate planning attorneys frequently get phone calls from potential clients who believe they were treated unfairly and want to contest a loved one’s will. However, just being dissatisfied with how you’re treated in the will – no matter how unfair that treatment might be – is not enough to successfully challenge a will. In order to … [Read more...] about Contesting That Will Might Not be as Easy as You Think
When you die leaving behind a will, your executor is the person you choose as the representative of your estate for purposes of probate. Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, your Executor’s job might be relatively simple, or it might get quite complicated. Here’s an overview of the basic duties of an executor: File the appropriate documents with the court to open probate Notify the beneficiaries named in the will (and sometimes heirs not named in the will) that your estate … [Read more...] about What Will My Executor’s Duties Be?
One of the ways that a will can be successfully challenged is to prove that the person making the will (the “testator”) was under “undue influence” at the time the will was made. This essentially means proving that someone injected himself or herself into the testator’s life, and had so much power over the testator, that the testator’s will reflects not the desires of the testator, but the desires of the person controlling him or her. In order to win on a claim of undue influence, the person … [Read more...] about Definition: Undue Influence
Fortunately, from the standpoint of time and expense, the probate process in Texas is not always the nightmare that we often hear about in other states. Especially for smaller estates, the process can be streamlined and may take only a few months, if there are no problems to resolve. Larger estates, or those where there’s conflict, take longer to go through the probate process. Even if you have a relatively small estate, there are still reasons why you might want to avoid probate. Here are … [Read more...] about Three Reasons for Avoiding Probate