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Questions Answered by Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Texas on
Q: The question I have is about a probate of of a will
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Sep 10, 2021

Generally, a Will needs to be probated within four years of the Decedent's death. Until a Will is probated, the named executor in the Will has no powers to administer the estate. The named executor must first qualify to serve as the executor and be appointed as the executor by the Judge. A... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: What is the difference between an Affidavit of Heirship and Application for Determination of Heirship.
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Jun 3, 2021

Briefely:

An Affidavit of Heirship is used when there is no Will, filled out/completed by two disinterested witnesses, and then the affidavit is filed with the real property clerk. The affidavits are used to transfer property to the rightful heirs after the owner's death.

An...
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3 Answers | Asked in Probate for Texas on
Q: Father died recently left estate to 3 kids. Youngest named executor and the oldest is challenging the executor-ship.

eldest owes estate 400K. Eldest also lives in fathers home (paid for). Eldest is stalling so they do not have to pay and can live indefinitely in house. do we need a lawyer?

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Feb 26, 2021

It sounds like an attorney is going to be needed. It's unfortunate when siblings are at odds with each other, but it happens. The one named as the executor should start with hiring an attorney. The probate attorney can help direct the process in the right direction.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Elder Law for Texas on
Q: please see prior question that was not answered. if someone has no one to designate, can a lawyer be that person. thanks
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Dec 29, 2020

I am not sure what you are asking, but, if you are asking if an attorney can be designated as an executor under a Will, the answer is yes, but you would want to ask that attorney first if he/she would agree to serve as the executor. Furthermore, you would always want to have an alternate executor... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Texas on
Q: What if neither the inventory or in lieu of was filed with the probate court in TX and it's been 5mos
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Dec 28, 2020

Has there been an extension granted? If not, under the Texas Estates Code, any person interested in the estate can ask the Court to to cite the personal representative and the Court could possibly fine the personal representative up to $1,000.00, unless the personal representative can show the... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: If i am legally still married and he died. Then shouldn't his estate go to his spouse ?

His brother said he was left everything. Shouldn't i have more rights than him ?

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Nov 19, 2020

It depends if your spouse had a valid Will. If he did not, his estate would pass through the intestacy laws of Texas, and that doesn't necessarily mean the surviving spouse would get everything. The type of property (community or separate and real or personal) would dictate who inherits.... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: My mother passed away and left the house to my sister and me,we are the beneficiaries. We want to sell the house.

The will appoints my sister as executor. The deed is in my mother and father's name,both are deceased. All taxes and bills on the home are paid and current. Can we file for probate?

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Jun 25, 2020

Yes, you can file the Will for probate but there may be other probate options available to you, depending on any other property or assets that need transferred. I would recommend consulting with a probate attorney in your area to discuss the options available for you.

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3 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: My stepmother wants me to sign a paper to relinquish my rights to my father's estate.

My dad passed away a couple of years ago she contacted me yesterday to sign a paper to relinquish my rights to his estate. The will has not been probated I asked to see a copy of the will and a suicide note and she has not replied what are my rights and can I represent myself put a complaint in... Read more »

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Jun 25, 2020

I would definitely not recommend signing anything until you speak with a probate attorney. Most probate attorneys will offer free 30 minute or 1 hour consultations. You don't want to sign anything until you know exactly what you may be entitled to and potentially relinquishing your rights to.

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Texas on
Q: Dad and I had a joint checking account. He passed away recently. Is that account property of the estate?
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on Jun 4, 2020

It depends.

A joint bank account with no rights of survivorship is an estate asset. Some type of probate proceeding will need to be done in order to get access to those funds.

If the bank account has a joint owner with rights of survivorship then the account will not be an...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Texas on
Q: is land personal or community property

Dad recently passed without a will, my parents bought land in the 80s together but divorced in the 90s. My mother signed over her part of the land to my dad so he owned it soley. 5 years later they remarried, is the land considered his personal property since he came into the marriage the second... Read more »

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on May 4, 2020

At the time of your dad's death, he owned the real property as his separate property. Your mom would have a life estate, meaning she could live there for her lifetime. Please contact a Texas probate attorney to discuss the details of what a life estate means and the probate process.

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3 Answers | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: married 20yrs a lot of those years we were separated he passsed4/6 his family is trying to take our. Property n TX

He owned property n Galveston I live n Fla his sister is already stealing his belongings I fear she will steal the home by forging deeds / documents

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on May 4, 2020

You need to find a probate attorney in the county where he lived at the time of his death, and it sounds like the sooner the better. If there was a Will it needs to be probated and the named executor will receive Letters Testamentary. If there is not a Will then you need to file for an... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: My boyfriend and I live together. We do not co mingle any of our assets. He has kids who are greedy, lie, in it for

the money. The home we live in I purchased, my name only is on the title, deed, mortgage, insurance, bills, everything. My name only is on my bank account. His name is on his bank account only. We file taxes as single people. I do not go by his last name. We live as single people, but together.... Read more »

Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on May 4, 2020

In order to be common law married in Texas you must meet 3 requirements: cohabitate, hold each other out as husband and wife, and agree to be married. You could always sign an agreement stating that you are not common law spouses, having it witnessed and notarized. Your fact pattern is a... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Texas on
Q: My brother died intestate on April 4,2020. He had no real property. Can I avoid probate?
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on May 4, 2020

Since there is no will, a small estate affidavit may be an option, but there are strict requirements that must be met in order to file this. The other option is filing for Letters of Administration with Determination of Heirship. Since there was no Will the Court must establish who the legal... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: Do handwritten wills in Texas need to be witnessed and notarized to be valid? We do own a home, if that matters
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith
Beth Ann Serafini-Smith answered on May 4, 2020

Texas does allow for a holographic Will. A holographic Will allows for the Will to be written "wholly in the testator's handwriting" and is not required to be attested by subscribing witnesses, but must be signed by the testator. Texas Estates Code Section 251.052. If you have a... Read more »

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