Probate is the first step in the process of dealing with the property and obligations of a loved one after they have passed away. The Texas probate process is efficient and comparatively inexpensive Compared with the process in some states, especially with a knowledgeable probate attorney there to guide you. To get started, first contact a probate lawyer to discuss the Texas probate process and alternatives to Probate under Texas Law.
Intestate Estates – An “Intestate estate” is simply where someone dies without a valid will. When this happens, handling assets and bills and determining who inherits property can be costly and difficult. There are several options families may consider when faced with this situation. The help of an experienced attorney is invaluable. Contact us for a free consultation and let us help you through this difficult time.
Will Probate – Probating a will is not difficult in Texas. However, making sure that everything is done and is done correctly is important to ensure that the process is completed without undue delay or expense.
Guardianships – if you have a loved one that is unable to care for himself due to physical and/or mental disabilities, you may need to consider a guardianship. However, Texas does recognize several options that can help avoid a guardianship. Navigating the guardianship process does not have to be difficult. A guardianship attorney can help you determine whether a guardianship is truly necessary, whether you are eligible to become a guardian, prepare the necessary documentation, and apply for the guardianship with the probate court.
Avoiding Probate – Commonly, people are bombarded with the idea that they need to avoid probate at all costs. Frankly, this is just not true. There are, however, ways to reduce the chances that probate becomes necessary.
In many states, but not necessarily in Texas, the probate process can be costly and time-consuming. This fact has led to the common misconception that probate is a four-letter word.
Even though probate in Texas is easy and uncomplicated, there are a couple of ways to potentially avoid probate. For example, Revocable Living Trust, Payable on death or rights of survivorship accounts, and Lady Bird deeds can help reduce the odds that formal probate is necessary. However – you must understand that there is never any guarantee that probate is avoidable. Anyone saying there is a sure-fire way to avoid probate is simply mistaken.
Estate Planning in Texas is more than just drafting a Will. It also involves documents such as a medical power of attorney, a physicians directive (living will), a durable power of attorney, and more. These documents affect decisions that occur during your lifetime, not just afterwards. Estate planning can include trusts and other mechanisms that are useful during your lifetime and beyond.
Documents to consider in any estate plan include:
Last Will and Testament - Wills in Texas are one of the most important components of every estate plan. Generally speaking, Wills in Texas name beneficiaries, name the executor, make specific bequests, describe how administration of the estate should occur, set up trusts, and name the guardian for minor children. Most importantly, a will sets out to whom you want your property to be distributed after you are gone. If you do not leave a valid will behind, you lose all control over how your property is divided among your loved ones.
Most wills are typed documents. A typed will requires at least 2 witnesses and a notary public. By contrast, a will that is completely in the Testator’s handwriting may also be valid. A handwritten will is called a “holographic” will. However, a will that is a mixture of typed text and handwritten text will face tremendous difficulty surviving a court’s scrutiny and will likely be invalid.
Trusts - A Living Trust (or inter vivos trust) is a trust created during your lifetime. Once created, the trust has a trustee that manages the trust assets. Most of the time, you retain the right to revoke your trust at any time. This is commonly called a “Revocable Living Trust” and can be revoked or amended at any time during your lifetime.
In most cases, a living trust should not be created merely to avoid probate; the trust creation and administration will often be more expensive and/or more burdensome than if the assets had just passed through the probate process through a will.
A living trust does have other advantages. First, many people do not want the whole world to know the size of the assets they own when they die. When assets pass through the probate process, anyone can find out the value of the estate. A living trust, however, can create privacy by preventing trust property from passing through the probate process.
There are many legal and financial factors to consider when choosing an estate planning tool. A living trust in Texas is recommended in some, but not all, clients’ situations. A dedicated trust attorney can help you weigh the pros and cons of a living trust in your particular situation. Consider contacting a lawyer for a consultation to help you choose the best estate planning for your unique situation.
General Power of Attorney - A durable general power of attorney grants authority to someone you trust to conduct financial, real estate, and/or legal transactions on your behalf. The person you appoint will have the ability to manage your personal and financial affairs in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.
Medical Power of Attorney - With a Texas Medical Power of attorney, you can designate someone, such as your spouse or some other loved one, to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable in the future.
HIPAA Release - Hospitals are not allowed to share your medical records with anyone absent your consent. If you want a loved one to have access to your medical files, you need to give the health care provider authorization to share your file with others.
Declaration of Guardian - A Declaration of Guardian designates who you would prefer to be your guardian should you become unable to care for yourself anymore. There are two basic types of guardian: a guardian of the estate and a guardian of the person. A guardian of the estate has the power to make decisions regarding your property. The guardian of the person has the power to make personal decisions for you, such as where you will live.
Advance Directive (Living Will) - Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to communicate your preferences regarding end-of-life care ahead of time. For example, if you are in a vegetative state, you will not have the ability to communicate with your family about your wishes for medical treatment. This advance directive relieves a tremendous burden on your loved ones, who may fear that they will make a decision that you would not want.
Deed of Trust - When someone purchases real estate, the seller signs a deed that transfers ownership. If the buyer borrows money, he must sign a legal document from the bank or other lender providing the loan for the property. Most states call the loan document a mortgage, but some states, including Texas, use a Deed of Trust. The purpose of the Deed of Trust is to secure the lender’s right to be repaid by the buyer. A Deed of Trust allows a lender to foreclose on the real property if the loan is not repaid. Sometimes people sell property and agree to accept payments from the buyer rather than involving a bank. Property sellers may also secure their right to repayment through a Deed of Trust.
Promissory Note – If you are financing the purchase or sale of property, you should have the repayment terms set out in writing so that there is no confusion. A promissory note sets out the monthly payment amount, the interest rate charged, the monthly due date for payments, and all other items that parties have agreed upon. Texas does not allow a verbal agreement when buying or selling real estate. Proper documentation is imperative to successful real estate transaction.
Deeds – There are several types of property deeds in Texas. Some transfer ownership of property immediately. For example, you may receive a General Warranty Deed or a more limited Special Warranty Deed. Others, like a Lady Bird Deed, transfer some rights to property now and more rights later.
Will Contests - In the vast majority of cases, a Decedent's Will is filed for probate and is administered without any conflict. However, in some cases, a dispute may arise over the person applying to be the executor, or the dispute may arise over the validity of the terms of the Will.
Guardianship Litigation - Any time a guardianship action is initiated, some level of controversy is likely to exist related to whether the incapacitated person is sufficiently unable to care for themselves that they need a guardian. Additionally, family members of the incapacitated person may disagree on who may be the most appropriate person to serve as guardian.
As a startup or entrepreneur, you will constantly be looking for legal guidance through all aspects of your business. For most, however, a full-time in-house counsel is cost prohibitive. That’s where New & Hall fits in. The most cost-effective way to manage the legal needs of your business is to have capable legal counsel you trust at your disposal. A strategic business partner providing proactive advice and oversight to help you achieve your goals.
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• General Contractual Agreements
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New & Hall PLLC understand the unique needs of the creative community. We represent musicians, artists, actors, performers, dancers, magicians, social media influencers, production companies, video companies, producers, directors, publicists, publishers, and authors. At every step of the process, having New & Hall PLLC on your side to protect your creation and your interests can make all the difference.
Our services include transactional and litigation representation for individuals, groups, and companies alike, including:
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No matter what aspect of entertainment you fall into, New & Hall PLLC is prepared to assist you with your legal needs throughout the industry.
Whether it is a shareholder suit, partnership dispute, trademark infringement, breach of contract, fraud, fiduciary duty, business dissolution, negligence, defamation, non-competition enforcement, general business litigation, or any other lawsuit, having a lawyer on your side that is well versed in the practice of business litigation is the best decision you can make. New & Hall are well prepared to advocate on your behalf in court, at mediation, or in arbitration. Whatever the forum, we will work hard to accomplish the results you deserve.