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Probate
We live in a digital world–well, most of our important documents do.  Even today there are some documents that have to be kept in paper form.  A will is an example.  This begs the question, what happens when you lose your original will?  Or what happens if you cannot locate the original will for a…Continue...
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Contesting a Will After the Probate Assets are Distributed There are a number of challenges an executor can face in administering an estate. Will contests are an example. These disputes can be particularly troubling if they are filed after the estate has been administered and the probate assets have been distributed. The court recently considered…Continue...
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Texas law allows for an informal probate process. This gives the executor a considerable amount of leeway to administer the probate estate. But as highlighted in the recent In Re Cassar, No. 14-17-00825-CV (Ct. App.–Houston 2018) case, there are instances when the probate court will order the executor to post a bond to ensure that…Continue...
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Texas Probate Attorney Ad Litem Fee is Not Negotiable Probate courts in Texas appoint attorneys to represent the unknown heirs.  The attorneys fee is paid out of the probate assets.  In Estate of Erwin, No. 07-16-00130-CV (Tex. App.–Amarillo 2018), the court addressed whether the beneficiaries and the attorney ad litem can negotiate or agree on…Continue...
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Texas Courts Strictly Construe Language in Wills The courts will generally enforce the terms of a valid will.  The focus is on the language of the will, not external evidence that suggests a different meaning for the language included in the will.  A good example of this can be found in Estate of Neal, No. 02-16-00381-CV…Continue...
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Obtaining Clear Title When Will Not Probated How do you get clear title to real estate when the owner died with a will, but the will was never admitted to probate? The court addressed this in Ramirez v. Galvan, No. 03-17-00101-CV (Tex. App.–Austin 2018). Facts and Procedural History Mrs. Ramirez was diagnosed with terminal cancer.…Continue...
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In In re Perkins, 10-17-00311-CV (Tex. App.—Waco 2017), the appeals court considered whether an estate beneficiary can bring suit in district court for damages against an executor while the probate administration is pending in the county court. Facts & Procedural History The facts and procedural history are as follows: The case involved a probate dispute…Continue...
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In the states that allow them, such as Texas, Lady bird deeds are a relatively simple and useful tool that should be used more often. The In re Estate of Maggie Williams Turner, No. 06-17-00071-CV (Tex. App.–Texarkana 2017), case provides an opportunity to consider the benefits of these types of deeds. Facts and Procedural History…Continue...
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Settlement agreements entered into during the probate process are generally binding. But what happens when one party enters into an agreement and later changes their mind? Can they get out of the settlement agreement? The court recently addressed this in Estate of Riefler, No. 07-16-00375-CV (Tex. App.–Amarillo 2017). Facts and Procedural History The facts and…Continue...
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Imagine you are appointed as the executor for a family member or loved one and, as part of the probate process, you discover that the decedent transferred their primary asset to another party during their lifetime. Also imagine that they did so when they were of sound mind and it appears that they did so…Continue...
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