Texas Wills & Trusts

"A will should address and enforce your particular circumstances and desires, which are two things that you do not want a group of strangers in a courtroom to decide for you.”

    --Joe House, Founding Partner

You need a will to protect your family and loved ones. Let us help you ensure that your intentions are honored and avoid the risk of improper attestation, invalidity, and intestacy.

 

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Probate versus non-probate property and inherent risks

The rules which courts apply to testamentary property differ greatly from those applied to non-probate property. That is to say, property subject to devise or bequest in a will is governed by the Texas estate law, along with its many exceptions and specific applications. Conversely, non-probate property is often governed by the rules of contract and as such, is governed very differently and by another body of law entirely. The importance of knowing which law applies to what property and to what extent is crucial to successfully carrying out one’s testamentary wishes.

General concerns and common questions regarding wills and trusts:
  • Legal capacity

  • Testamentary capacity

  • Effect of divorce

  • Self-proving wills

  • Holographic wills

  • Will contestation

  • No-contest clauses

  • Homestead and Family Allowance

  • Adoption (adult and minor)

  • Non-marital children

  • Revocation and alteration

  • Lapsed gifts and the Texas Anti-lapse statute

  • Ademption

  • Abatement of a specific bequest or devise

  • Incorporation by reference

  • Contractual wills and limitations

  • Venue and jurisdictional analysis

  • Independent versus dependent administration

Alternatives of formal administration to consider:
  • Muniment of Title

  • Statutory Heirship Proceeding

  • Informal or Small Estate Administration

 

Handling creditors of the estate upon probate:
  • Notice requirements

  • Limitations

  • Secured creditors versus unsecured creditors

  • Homestead protection

 

Avoiding intestacy

Where an individual dies “intestate,” this means that the person has no will, or that the will was not validly formed under the Texas Probate Code. Boilerplate intestate rules are then applied to the estate of the decedent and an allocation of assets is made to the surviving family members, regardless of the intent or wishes expressed in the failed will. This situation may lead to unfortunate and undesired consequences, such as wrongful allocation.

 

Homestead

The Texas Constitution and statutes provide for a considerable amount of personal and real property to be protected from all but a select few creditors. However, these rules are detailed and expansive, making it difficult to determine what specific property is covered and what is not. Moreover, the scope of protection under these rules has expanded in recent years such that property once excluded may now be included. Knowing what property is protected and which property is susceptible to creditors is critical for prudent estate management.

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Trusts

Trusts are important legal tools if created properly. When creating a trust it is necessary to analyze the potential application of the following to determine the best choice for your specific needs:

  • Revocable trusts versus irrevocable trusts

  • Charitable trusts

  • Spendthrift trusts

  • Qualified Terminable Interest Property “QTIP” trust

  • Designation of Successor Trustee

  • Concerns regarding multiple trustees

  • Powers of a trustee

  • Trust insurance and prudent investment requirements

  • Trustee duties

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House Perron & House PLLC

2211 Norfolk Street Suite 1150,

Houston, TX 77098

Phone. 281-762-1377

Fax. 8663427683