Houston Probate Attorney Blog

Appointing a Receiver to Sell Jointly Owned Property

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When co-owners of property are at odds over the property, it may be necessary to have a court appoint a receiver to manage and/or sell the property. This remedy isn’t always available, as evidenced by the In re Estate of Martinez, No. 01-18-00217-CV (Tex. Ct. App.–Houston 2019) case. Facts & Procedural History The case involves […]

Challenging Probate Court’s Order to Settle Lawsuits

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Contents1 Facts & Procedural History2 Temporary Administration3 Bill of Review to Challenge Appointment4 Is a Bill of Review Required? If a probate court appoints a temporary administrator and approves a settlement for outstanding lawsuits against the estate, heirs with an interest in the estate may have limited options for challenging the decision to settle the […]

Planning for Special Needs Trusts

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Special needs trusts can provided additional resources for disabled minors and adults.  Special care has to be taken in planning for these trusts.  The recent Estate of Mendard, No. 14-18-00434-CV (Tex. App. — Houston [14th Dist.] 2019) provides an example.  It involves a special needs trust that ended up owning a house that the disabled beneficiary’s relatives lived in rent-free, thereby depleting the assets of the trust for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary’s relatives. Read more

Voiding a Common Law Marriage After Death

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Will contest suits often involve children whose inheritance is being claimed by a third party who asserts to be common law married to the childrens dead parent.  This raises questions as to whether the new spouse is entitled to all or some of the decedent’s assets.  The recent Estate of Durrell, No. 13-17-00431-CV (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi [13th] 2019) provides a prime example of this type of will contest suit. Read more

What if You Cannot Talk or Sign a Will?

Houston Probate Attorney

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What if You Cannot Talk or Sign a Will?

Generally, for a will to be valid, one has to communicate their wishes in a will and the will has to be signed.  This begs the question as to how someone who cannot speak or sign a will can execute a valid will.  The court addressed this in Estate of Luce, No. 02-17-00097-CV (Tex. App.-Ft. Worth 2018), in a case involving a will executed by an estate planning attorney for his quadriplegic client who could not speak or sign the will. Read more

Common Estate Planning Goals

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Common Estate Planning Goals

Estate planning is about you, the person who is alive and in control of property, and those who will eventually control and/or receive your property.  It is about your wishes and what will happen in the future.

Having worked with clients to develop estate plans, there are some common basic goals that are considered.  This includes providing for loved ones, mitigating or avoiding probate, minimizing taxes, providing for the orderly distribution and stewardship of assets, protecting assets, and planning for incapacity. Read more

Filing Inventory in Texas Probate

Houston Probate Attorney

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Filing Inventory in Texas

Within 90 days after qualification, the personal representative must file with the Court a sworn inventory, appraisement and list of claims (“Inventory”) of the estate.  The Inventory must include all estate real property located in Texas and all estate personal property regardless of where the property is located. And it must specify which portion of the property, if any, is separate property and which, if any, is community property. Tex. Estates Code 309.051. Read more

Independent Administration in Texas

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What is an independent administration?

An independent administration is a non-court administration.  After a person has applied for letters testamentary and been qualified as independent executor by the court, the executor files an inventory of the estate’s assets and their appraised value, and a list of claims of the estate. Thereafter, the executor administers the estate without any court involvement or supervision, much the same way as trusts are administered. Read more

What is a Family Settlement Agreement?

Houston Probate Attorney

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About Family Settlement Agreements in Texas

Family settlement agreements are used to resolve probate litigation without trial. They can help avoid litigation costs and uncertainty associated with trial.

Family settlement agreements can be used to resolve a number of probate disputes, such as will contests, will construction suits, claims and trust modifications, etc. Read more