Free tips on wills and estate planning 

Tip: New Texas Law May Help You Avoid the Expenses Associated with Deeding Property to Heirs in Probate Court

 

Call the Transfer on Death Deed Project at 512-637-6752 to find out if you qualify for free help to complete a "Transfer on Death Deed."

 

A new Texas law allows real property owners to convey (transfer) property outside of probate.  Skipping the probate process allows you to avoid paying court costs and administrative costs to deed the property to your beneficiary (heir).  Under the current law, the property is also excluded from Medicaid estate recovery.

 

Tip:  Stepchildren May Not Inherit if You Die without a Will

 

Stepchildren do not inherit from a stepparent if the stepparent dies without a will.  The reason is that the stepchild is not considered to be legally related to that stepparent.  

 

The stepchild can inherit from a stepparent who dies without a will only if the stepparent legally adopts the child or if the steppchild proves in court the existence of a written or verbal agreement to adopt that was not executed before the stepparent's death.

 

Tip:  Update Your Will Periodically

 

Your work is not done once you put your will in writing.  Be sure to update your will periodically to account for changes in circumstance or special events, such as the birth of a new baby.  If you do not update your will, you may find yourself facing some of the same nightmares that you tried to avoid when you hired a lawyer to create your will.

 

Tip: Estate Planning is Important to Help Your Family Members Take Care of You While You are Still Alive

 

Not only do you need careful, well done estate planning when you pass away, you also need estate planning when you are alive and too ill to take care of yourself.  Help your family members carry out your wishes when you are too sick to do so by creating these three important documents:  

 

(1) durable power of attorney (allows your chosen agent to handle your financial and legal affairs);

 

(2) HIPAA Release (allows your doctors to share your confidential health information with your chosen agent); and

 

(3) Directive to Physicians (allows your chosen agent to make medical decisions on your behalf).

 

Tip:  What Happens If I Die without a Will?

 

The Texas Probate Code determines how your property in your estate will be divided among your legal heirs.

 

(1) If you are unmarried and without children, the following occurs under the Texas Probate Code: (a) Your parents will inherit your estate in equal shares if both parents are alive; (b) If only one parent is alive, the living parent will inherit your whole estate if you do not have siblings, or the living parent will inherit half of your estate and your siblings (or their descendants) will inherit the other half of your estate; and (c) Your living siblings (or their descendants) will inherit your estate in equal shares if your parents die before you.

 

(2) If you are unmarried with children, then your whole estate will pass to your children in equal shares.

 

(3) If you are married without children, your surviving spouse inherits all of your estate.

 

(4) If you are married with children, the following occurs under the Texas Probate Code: (a) If all of your children belong to your surviving spouse, your surviving spouse inherits all of your community property; (b) If all of your children do not belong to your surviving spouse, then your surviving spouse inherits one-half of your community property, and your children inherit the other half in equal shares.

 

 

 

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© Cris S. Houston, Attorney-at-Law