A Brief Overview on the Administration of an Estate

When a person dies, his estate needs to be managed, collected and distributed. This is done with the help of the estate executor or administrator. It’s a big responsibility, so if you’ve been appointed the executor of an estate, it helps to understand the entire process.

The Probate Proceeding

The probate proceeding may not require much court intervention. Most probate proceedings generally involve filing the necessary probate papers, having the court appoint the administrator or executor, paying the deceased’s debts and taxes, distributing the remaining assets to the heirs, and having the court approve the distribution and close out the estate.

When the will is contested, the court may find itself more involved, and everyone involved in the will, along with the estate administrator, will find themselves appearing in court at least once, possibly more.

Estate Management

Once the executor or administrator is appointed, he’ll begin by inventorying the estate.

The creditors will receive notification of the decedent’s death, and if the decedent had assets that were enough to pay the creditors, the estate makes those payments. If the decedent’s assets did not cover the debt, the court approves which creditors get paid.

Once the debt and taxes are paid, any remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the will.

If the decedent only owned a few assets, it’s possible the entire probate process can be avoided by going through a “small estate” administration. This is possible if the value of the decedent’s assets is less than the threshold amount.

If you’ve been appointed administrator or executor of an estate, we are here for you every step of the way.

Three Important Documents to Include in Your Estate Plan

For most of us, creating an estate plan is something that usually gets put off for another time. Yes, estate planning and the circumstances surrounding it are a difficult topic, but necessary. Here, we’ll provide you with some of the most important aspects of estate planning, so you have a better understanding as to why you need to start your estate plan now:

To Start: A Power-of-Attorney

The first document you should have as part of your estate plan is a Power-of-Attorney. This is a legal document that grants another individual the ability to make certain medical or financial decisions on your behalf. Decisions include liquidating assets, managing your insurance and, in the case of a medical power-of-attorney, ensuring you have the medical care you desire.

Next Up: A Living Will

The next thing on your list should be a living will. This is a document that specifically outlines your medical wishes, should you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions on your own. Decisions include:

  • Certain life-prolonging treatments, including surgery, medication and blood transfusions.
  • Palliative care or pain relief options.
  • Life support.
  • Administration of water and food (tube feeding).
  • DNR (Do-not-resuscitate) orders.

Number Three: Your Will

Writing a will is a crucial part of estate planning. This document serves two purposes: First, it outlines who receives your assets and property after you’ve passed away. Second, it designates who will be the guardian of any minor children you have. Without a will, a court makes those decisions for you.

For more information on estate planning, contact us.

Your Estate Litigation Problems Can Be Resolved: You Are Not Alone

When clients are going through estate problems, sometimes all they want is for someone to listen to them and understand their problems. Before a solution can be brought forward, the problem needs to be understood first.

People who feel they have been wronged in a situation did not choose to go through this tough time. They are already grieving, so why would they intentionally cause friction and disputes within the family? Unfortunately, these type of situations will arise. Sometimes families cannot avoid

Sometimes families cannot avoid estate litigation. When estate litigation does happen, decisions need to be made carefully and everyone needs to understand the best way to get through the litigation.

When you add an experienced attorney to your team, you will have someone on your side who has seen and heard the same problems you are having. Sometimes children are left out of a will because one parent remarried, and the surviving parent chose not to include the children in the will. Sometimes one child can take advantage of a parent and obtain access to all of the parent’s possessions, and even sells everything.

You may think your problems are too difficult to understand and that no one can give you the help you need. This is not true. When you find the right lawyer to help you in your time of need, you will not have to stress over your problems. You will not have to worry about how this will impact your family because the issues can be resolved.

If you find yourself staring at a difficult estate litigation situation and you need help, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Don’t Let the Probate Court Make Decisions on Your Behalf – Have a Will Drawn Up

When music legend Prince passed away, the news reported a number of times about the legendary icon’s estate and who would inherit the millions of dollars in assets. To make matters worse, Prince died intestate, meaning he did not have a will (at least one that anyone knew about). When someone dies intestate, the Probate court essentially makes the decisions regarding who gets what, and those individuals are almost always direct family members, whether they were a part of the decedent’s life or not.

Why a Will is Important

A will is an important legal document, not just for someone who has millions of dollars in assets, but for anyone, regardless of the value of the estate you’ll leave behind. A will directs who inherits your assets and it also establishes who will care for any minor children you have. Also, if you establish a trust fund for those children, you will indicate who you wish to serve as trustee of that fund.

A Will is Necessary at Any Age

As we mentioned in the above paragraph, a will can name guardians you wish to care for your minor children in the event of your death. It’s important to have a will drawn up as early in life as you can, and an estate attorney can word the document to name guardians of any future born children, to cover yourself in the event you start a family before you have time to update your will.

Having a will drawn up is not a time-consuming process and, unless you have a very complex estate, is not very expensive. The time and cost that you do wind up spending are worth it, knowing that when you pass away, your wishes are granted because you had a will. Make an appointment  with our office to learn more about wills and to start the process of writing yours.

Be Careful When Creating These Two Types of Wills

When preparing a will, it may seem like you simply write down how you want to split your assets when you die, and you are done. Wills, though, are not quite that simple. There are many different types of wills, and it is important to make sure your will is created correctly, or your wishes may not be carried out when you die. Here are examples of will, which, if created incorrectly, may not be handled the way you wish.

Simple Will

This will option is great for those who do not have a lot of property or assets to distribute. It includes information about who will handle the person’s assets upon the person’s death as well as how assets are to be distributed. If applicable, it also tells who will care for any minor children and the children’s trust. The will must be signed and dated in the presence of at least two witnesses who are both over 14 years old. While there are online forms for simple wills, they may not comply with Texas law and may not be valid. Therefore, it is important to consult a reputable attorney to ensure your simple will is filled out correctly.

Holographic or Handwritten Will

While a holographic or handwritten will is legal in Texas, there are specific requirements. In general, it must be written entirely by the testator, the person whose will it is, and it must be signed and dated. When written entirely in the testator’s handwriting, the will does not need to be witnessed by anyone else. If there are two witnesses present when the testator creates the will, it is not required that the will is fully in the testator’s handwriting, but it must be signed by the testator as well as both witnesses. All three must sign the will in the presence of the other two. Because of issues associated with a handwritten will, including verifying the handwriting and interpreting vague wording, it is generally best to allow a qualified attorney to help you draft your will.

Of course, there are many more complex times of wills, including wills that divide large estates and living wills, which deal with your desires if you are placed on life-support. If you need help creating a will, contact us.