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Texas Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: I have been told by the two children of an Aunt that she (their Mother my Aunt) provided a trust fund for me in her will

They told me her estate was worth between 1 and 3 Million and the trust fund was to receive 20%. However I have been unable to get further info from them. There is no probate info on line. My only income is from SSI and I am 68 years old. How can I get specific info?

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Aug 12, 2020

You can request an accounting from the trustee....but for that you have to know who the trustee is. The trustee might be a person, a trust company or a bank with trust powers.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for Texas on
Q: Does 6 tax returns claimed as married work as proof

If the marriage is common law to get his belongings

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Aug 11, 2020

The judge will decide.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Texas on
Q: How does a joint estate get split up?

my grandfather passed in 2000, my grandmother passed in 2017. They purchased a joint home. They only have one child together but each of my grandparents had children from previous marriages. My grandfather has no will. My grandmother has a will that can still be probated. Is it 2 separate... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Aug 11, 2020

Each of your grandparents had a 50% community property interest in the home. When your grandfather died, your grandmother retained a life estate, which has now expired. Each of your grandfather's children inherits an equal fraction of his 50% community property interest. Your... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Wrongful Death for Texas on
Q: Show my common-law husband just passed away the apartments he lives at is refusing to allow us to get all his things or

We are common law married we do not have a marriage license but we have six years of tax returns where he claims me as his wife and our two children so what did Nick go to me and my children instead of allowing them to put it in Probate is it legal for them to put it in Probate instead of giving it... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Aug 10, 2020

If this is an heirship proceeding (meaning there was no Will), you can contest it. You will have to prove your marriage.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: The executor of my moms will for over 2 years has refused to search for a safety deposit box. Can I do anything.

I have volunteered to do search but will tell me name of bank or give me any authorization

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Aug 10, 2020

Why do you think that there is a safety deposit box? Did your mother leave a safety deposit box key?

If you are a beneficiary under the Will, 15 months after the executor is appointed, you can ask for an accounting. If you do not receive one within 60 days, you can ask the court to remove...
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1 Answer | Asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Family Law for Texas on
Q: Can we sign a prenuptial agreement after becoming informal/common law married and before becoming more formally married?

Heterosexual couple living in Texas. It’s in my interest to join in common law marriage to be recognized as a household to be able to join in on my fiancé’s health care benefits. We have plans to have a formal wedding ceremony a year from now, or when we can—Covid-pending. Thank you.

Hon. Richard W. B. Davis
Hon. Richard W. B. Davis answered on Jul 28, 2020

If you are common law married, that is a valid marriage. Thus, if you sign any agreement regarding our property, it will not be a prenuptial agreement but a postmarital agreement which is recognized under Texas law.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Texas on
Q: I live in Texas and I have an special needs adult child who lives with me and requires round the clock care.

When I die can I create a will appointing a close friend to be my daughter's guardian/caregiver when I'm gone? Will my daughter's father have any say so to whom is her caregiver? Thanks

Isaac Shutt
Isaac Shutt answered on Jul 27, 2020

Yes, you can. You also should establish a trust in your will for your daughter. You need to do this so that your daughter doesn't lose her governmental benefits... We don't charge anything extra for adding this type of trust into our clients' wills.

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law, Probate and Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: My grandparents are both deceased. They owned a home. They had 5 children. All but 2 are deceased. The 3 who are decease

Have surviving children. Do the 2 surviving children have to include the children of their deceased siblings in signing loans to repair the home or selling the home.

Ross F. Tew
Ross F. Tew answered on Jul 23, 2020

Yes.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: I have a question about a particular line in my father's trust agreement that his estate planning attorney has sent me.

"waives any right to additional information regarding the matters governed and effected by this Agreement." (yes, the grammatical error is in the actual document). I'm concerned about this because I've been largely kept in the dark concerning family financials and I'm not... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jul 23, 2020

It is not standard. In Texas an annual accounting must be provided to any beneficiary 25 or older, unless that beneficiary has waived the right to receive the accounting.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: I found out my sister put her name as the only living relative on our brothers death certificate can she do that!?
Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jul 22, 2020

Texas death certificates do not typically list someone as "ONLY living relative." Please look carefully.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Texas on
Q: I recorded a TOD deed on my dad's home with the county clerk in Texas a few years ago.

I left out two pages that were blank regarding beneficiary selection that did not apply (option A & B). I did complete section C, but did not mark the box indicating my choice. Based on the above info, is this TOD deed still valid, or will it be deemed invalid at the time of my father's... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Jul 14, 2020

It is invalid because it should have been filled out and signed by your dad.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Elder Law for Texas on
Q: I need advise on transferring a home deed into my name.

The deed is in my dad name with moms being second. Dad passed in 1980. Mom is 83 and had lived in the home since his passing but never dropped his name from the deed. Dad left no will. Mom has a will with me as POA. How and what do I need to do to get this deed tranfered into my name before she... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jul 8, 2020

The first step would be to transfer your father's 50% community property interest to your mother. At this point, she could do this with an Affidavit of Heirship recorded in the county deed records.

It is not clear that your mother should transfer the home to anyone while she is alive....
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: My dad died, step mom is beneficiary on life insurance. Are his children entitled to any of that or His pensions?

Step mom left him and was living in Oregon. He did not have a will but 401k, life insurance and pension from a job before they were married. Are his children entitled to any of that money or not because she is listed as beneficiary? I

Know we have property rights.

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jul 6, 2020

She is entitled to the life insurance and anything else on which she is named the beneficiary. The 401k passes to her unless she wrote the plan administrator waiving her right to it.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Texas on
Q: My Grandfather passed away in 2018 - His assets were split 3 ways between my Mom, Uncle and Aunt. My Mom was in the

process of setting up a will and living trust and then passed away (None of her Assets were put in the trust in time). My father is still with us but nothing was in his name. We are still trying to locate all the assets. My Father has an estate attorney involved and has filed for probate. But... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jul 6, 2020

In Texas inherited property is always separate property. It passes to the spouse if all children of the deceased are also children of the surviving spouse. The children only have a share if there are children of the deceased who are not children of the surviving spouse.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law and Probate for Texas on
Q: My minor son's father died 5.5 years ago. No will. We lived as a family, but were not legally married.

The estate was probated into my minor son's name for him to obtain at the age of 18. My question is: can I withdraw the funds on the scope that I, as his BIOLOGICAL Mother (only surviving natural parent) in which he lives with and I have SOLE responsibility for, believe those funds provide the... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jun 29, 2020

As a parent, you have a duty to provide food, shelter and medical care for your child. You do not have a right to use his inheritance for these. You can apply to the court to receive reimbursement or funds for things which a parent is not legally obligated to provide: summer camp, music lessons,... Read more »

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 »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jun 25, 2020

Do not sign. Hire a probate lawyer who practices in the county in which your father lived and died to require production of the Will or, if there is none, file an Application for Determination of Heirship and Appointment of Independent Administrator. If the Will gives your stepmother more than... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Texas on
Q: About wills and living trust:

My parents are married but dad was previously married and has 3 children (1 deceased and 2 living). My parents do not want previous children to receive any inheritance do they need a will or can they get by with a living trust? and IF they need a will can it go without being probated?

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jun 23, 2020

While they could use either a Will or a Revocable Living Trust, either a Will or any estate which was not in the Trust when they died would need to be probated. A Texas probate may be cheaper and faster than you imagine.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Texas on
Q: How to I divide undivided interest before the estate gets passed down to my generation?

When my grandmother passed away, she left the family land to my cousins and I as undivided interest. Once all of her children pass away, the land is divided among the 12 of us. Her children no longer want to deal with the execution of the estate. How can I guarantee a portion of the property comes... Read more »

Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery answered on Jun 18, 2020

That sounds like a Life Estate to her Children, then Remainder over to the 12 or their heirs. But I am not reading the Deed or the Probated Will of GrandMother. Hire a competent attorney to search the title, determine what exact type of conveyance it is, then draft a Quit Claim Deed for all the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Texas on
Q: Can beneficiaries of a will ask for bank account information that was joint with rights of survivorship? 5yrs. after DOD

Beneficiaries are asking for details of a bank account that was held jointly with rights of survivorship. Not with them. It passed directly upon death, as such, did not go through probate. All holdings were POD or joint w/right of survivorship. They received all of their POD monies directly from... Read more »

Terry Lynn Garrett
Terry Lynn Garrett answered on Jun 18, 2020

They can ask but there is no reason that they should expect an answer.

An account held joint with right of survivorship passes to the survivor on presentation of the death certificate. Absent a suit for elder exploitation, no one else ever had any right to the money or any right to inquire...
Read more »

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