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
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 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
Guardianship Claim Bars Probate Claim? Imagine that you are owed money by someone who becomes incapacitated and they have a guardian appointed. Your debt is not secured by any property, such as real estate. The guardian sends you a notice to submit your claim for payment. The debtor is of an advanced age or not…Continue readingGuardianship Claim Bars Probate Claim?
The making of a will is serious. A valid will dictates who gets your property and when they get it. An invalid will can result in your property passing according to Texas intestacy law. It can also set up an expensive probate dispute. This is why estate planning attorneys take such care in helping clients…Continue readingAre Simultaneous Signatures Required for a Will?
There are some strict deadlines for contesting a will in Texas. The will contest generally has to be filed within two years of the time the will is admitted to probate. What happens if one of the parties hides the existence of the will and secretly probates the will? What if they make statements to…Continue readingThe “Discovery Rule” in Probate Disputes
Will have to be executed with the proper legal formalities. This includes having the terms of the will be in writing and signed by the decedent. There have been a number of disputes as to what counts as a writing and what counts as a signature. The courts have developed a body of case law…Continue readingSigning a Will With a Rubber Stamp
What happens if someone makes a promise to leave property to another person in their will, but then they update their estate plan and fail to provide the property as promised? Can the person who expected to receive the property recover from the property from the probate estate? If so, what if the promise was…Continue readingBroken Promise to Leave Property to Heir
Living arrangements can pose a number of problems when an older family member is placed in a home or they die. The family members have to decide what to do with the property. These issues often result in probate litigation after the parent dies. But what about when the parent is alive, but incapacitated? If…Continue readingAdult Child’s Rights to Parent’s House
An executor has a fiduciary duty as to the beneficiaries of a probate estate. If they breach this duty, the beneficiaries still have to establish the amount of any damages. If the damage is the loss of property, the measure of damages is the fair market value of the property that was lost. This raises…Continue readingThe Measure of Damages in Probate Litigation