There are ways to structure transactions to avoid income taxes. Creative taxpayers and tax attorneys have used qualified retirement accounts for this purpose (the tax savings from ESOPs is an example). One has to be careful when structuring transactions involving these qualified plans. Given the flexibility in the rules and the absence of financial advisors,…Continue…Continue readingFixing Self-Directed IRA Errors
The “too good to be true” lease. It’s the month-to-month lease agreement for a friend. It’s the lease that charges below-market rent. What happens to the real estate subject to this type of lease when the owner dies? What should you do if you are the personal representative and this property is part of the…Continue…Continue readingProbate & Below Market Rental Property
The beneficiaries and heirs of a probate estate are not stuck with the distributions set out in the decedent’s will or by Texas intestacy laws. The beneficiaries and heirs can agree among themselves to some other distribution scheme. This usually involves negotiating and recording the agreement in a family settlement agreement. A carefully drafted settlement…Continue…Continue readingDrafting Agreements in Probate Cases
Our Texas probate laws provide for independent administrations. The term “independent administration” means a probate that has very little court supervision or involvement. The “independent executor” is left to themselves to know and follow the law. This is why many executors prefer to serve as dependent administrators. They prefer having the court make the difficult…Continue…Continue readingProbate Court Cannot Order Executor to Act
Our legal system is based on the idea that each party to a lawsuit should be notified of the suit. This ensures that they can protect their interests or defend themselves against the suit. With probate cases, this involves personally serving citation. This notice process is mentioned in several sections of the Texas Estates Code.…Continue…Continue readingFailing to Notify Heirs of a Probate Case
Many courts shifted to online zoom hearings when the COVID virus situation started. This includes probate courts in Texas. This makes sense. Many probate hearings require witnesses. The witnesses are usually friends and acquaintances of the deceased. As with the deceased, generally, they are usually older. They may be more susceptible to have a strong…Continue…Continue readingNonresident Executor Subject to Texas Jurisdiction
There are times when you want to have a local judge or court decide a case. This can help if the court is familiar with the local circumstances or the parties. It can also help if there is a similar fact pattern that one knows the judge or court has considered previously or if the…Continue…Continue readingAbout Selecting the Probate Court
We should all take the time to prepare an estate plan. This is good advice. It is the type of advice that is often stated by financial planners and general estate planning attorneys. To an estate planning attorney, this advice is too broad and vague to really emphasize when an estate plan is really needed.…Continue…Continue readingCan Surviving Step-Mom Be Forced To Sell?
There are laws that conflict with other laws. These conflicts are often due to competing policies. What may have been a good policy for one fact pattern, may not be a good policy given a slightly different fact pattern. The recent Marshall v. Marshall, Nos. 14-18-00094-CV, 14-18-00095-CV (Tex. App–Houston [14th]), case provides an example. The…Continue…Continue readingAnti-Defamation Law Trumps Terms of Trust
Just about every business starts out with losses. This is the nature of start-ups. The activity will either gain traction and produce income and possibly a profit or, eventually, the activity end. This is basic economics and capitalism at work. The U.S. economy is based on these concepts, allowing would-be entrepreneurs the opportunity and motive…Continue…Continue readingHobby Loss vs. Start-Up Expense?