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Wills & Trusts

RNN LAW > Wills & Trusts

Help! I Owe Property Taxes on Inherited Property!

From time-to-time, clients will contact me because they owe property taxes on property that they did not even know they owned. Almost always, my client’s ownership arises from an inheritance they did not even know existed. Sometimes, the decedent is a fairly distant relative. Sometimes, the decedent is an estranged parent. Sometimes, it was just property that was forgotten over the generations. To many, this may seem like a “first-world” problem, and, to some extent, it is. However, the tax bill is real, the lawsuit is real, and the resulting foreclosure is real. Unfortunately, the value of the property is...

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Estate Planning for Blended Families

Blended families are a common occurrence in Frisco, Texas. However, meeting a spouse of a blended family that has their estate planning complete is rather rare. That is a problem because when a spouse dies without a will, and s/he has children from a prior relationship, the laws of the State of Texas are rather cruel to the surviving spouse. For instance, if a husband enters a marriage with two children, never signs a will after becoming remarried, and then dies, his children will own half of the house with their stepmother, as well as one-half of the personal community property...

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Transfer on Death Deeds

In 2015, the Texas Legislature created a vital new estate planning tool, namely, the Transfer on Death Deed. The Transfer on Death Deed will serve an important role in future estate planning needs by lessening, and sometimes removing, the burden of probate. The Transfer on Death Deed is similar to an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, which is sometimes called a Lady Bird Deed. So, exactly what is a transfer on death deed? A transfer on death deed is an instrument that transfers interest in real property from the transferor to beneficiaries named within the deed upon the death of the transferor....

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Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is an instrument created by a person called a settlor and managed by a trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries. In Texas, the same person can hold multiple titles under the trust.  Unlike revocable living trusts, though, the trust is generally irrevocable. Irrevocable trusts are created much less often than revocable living trusts. They are primarily used as creditor protection tools. Other benefits include avoiding probate and the ease of succession to manage property after the settlor dies. Irrevocable trusts do not qualify for the exception to the due on sale clause on mortgages. This means that settlors must...

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Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is an instrument (i) created by a person, the Settlor or Trustor, (ii) managed by a  trustee (iii) for the benefit of the beneficiaries. In Texas, the same person can hold multiple titles under the trust.  Typically, revocable living trusts are revocable during the lifetime of the trustor(s). Revocable living trusts are popular estate planning tools because (i) the trustor retains control over the trust property during his lifetime; and (ii) the beneficiaries avoid the cost of probate after the death of the trustor. Also, revocable living trusts may allow for more effective management of the trust...

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Who gets the kids if both parents die?

It’s the first date night a couple has had in several months. They have one toddler and a newborn at home. During the period of awkward silence that inevitably arises at the thankfully loud Chili’s showing SportsCenter with closed captioning, the wife asks, “What would happen to the kids if we died on the way home?” It is obviously an important question. No one likes to talk about it because the discussion alone could cause it to happen. Also, though, it brings up a whole mess of issues that are not always pleasant. In short, it could very well lead to...

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What happens to my business after I die?

What happens to a business after the owner dies is obviously an important question. The answer will depend on the business’ organizational documents and the business owner’s estate plan. First, it is important to remember that contracts usually trump a person’s last will and testament. Therefore, it a deceased business owner had a partner with whom he maintained a buy/sell agreement, then the buy/sell agreement would most likely control. It is highly recommended for active businesses with multiple owners to either maintain a buy/sell agreement or have a succession plan in regards to management. Next, one must look to see whether...

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Do I Need a New Will if I Move to a New State?

Opportunity increasingly carries Americans to new destinations. Recently, a lot of folks from California and Ohio seem to be making their way to Frisco, Texas. Although many of these new and welcomed Texans make the move for employment related purposes, many are also retirees settling closer to their grandchildren. Whatever the purpose, estate planning attorneys are often asked, “Is my will and trust good in Texas?” Assuming that the will and trust were executed properly, a will and trust from another state will be valid in the new state. However, it’s not always the best route in a new state. For...

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What Happens to the House and Mortgage When Someone Dies?

Attorneys handling estate planning and probate matters are often asked, “What happens to the house and mortgage when someone dies?” To answer that question, one must understand that almost all mortgages and deeds of trust contain a due on sale clause. A due on sale clause is a provision that bans the homeowner(s) from transferring any interest in a property. If a homeowner transfers an interest in the home, then the bank may cause the entire balance of the note to be due at once. If the note remains unpaid, then the lender may foreclose on the property. Obviously, that seems...

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Who Should be Included in Your HIPAA Release?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the law that disallows a doctor or hospital from providing a patient’s medical information to a third party without a release. Many people obtain releases during the ordinary course of business, like insurance companies. In addition, HIPAA Releases are usually included in Medical Powers of Attorney. However, should people other than agents under a Medical Power of Attorney be included in a HIPAA Release? A Medical Power of Attorney is usually only executed along with a person’s last will and testament, which is not typically updated very regularly. And, families often move...

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