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Probate

RNN LAW > Probate

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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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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Optional Provisions of Wills and Trusts

Last Wills and Testaments and trusts are obviously separate instruments. However, they are often complementary to one another. One may choose a variety of different options regarding a will and trust. This post will focus on a few of the options that are more popular. 1.            Contingent Trust – Wills distribute property upon the death of the testator. Trusts distribute property under the terms of the trust agreement. Oftentimes, though, a beneficiary of a distribution may be a minor. Alternatively, the beneficiary may be mentally incapable of minding the distribution. In these cases, clients may include a contingent trust. The contingent...

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Wills Are Public Information / Trusts are Not

Following the tragic death of Paul Walker, it was reported that he bequeathed approximately $25 million in assets to his daughter. How did they get that information? It was in the probate filings of his executor, which also (presumably) contained a copy of his last will and testament. One can make a very strong argument that one’s financial situation, especially upon death, should be a private matter. Why should it be public information? However, consider the other side. Wills provide information to the families. If the wills were not public information, then estranged family members, or at least quarreling family members,...

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Making Family Aware of Your Estate

All attorneys have their pet peeves. One of my growing pet peeves concerns people failing to notify their family about estate planning. It is very common for people to keep their estate and the distribution thereof private, especially if one or more of the descendants may be disturbed by the decisions. However, privacy and awareness are not exclusive terms. A few tips on maintaining privacy and awareness are listed below: 1.    Write a Letter / Tell Someone. Write a letter to multiple family members stating the existence of a will and/or trust. Additionally, tell them where the will and/or trust...

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