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San Antonio commercial leasing lawyerIn some ways, renting out commercial real estate can be less complicated than renting out residential units. As a commercial landlord, you probably are not too worried about someone smoking inside your property or throwing loud parties that disturb other tenants. You are less likely to be disturbed by after-hours maintenance requests, and you are not subject to some of the stringent housing code requirements that apply to residential units.

Of course, that does not mean that renting out commercial space is going to be all smooth sailing. There are plenty of reasons that a commercial landlord could face litigation. Disputes between corporate renters and property owners are not uncommon. If you are facing legal threats from your commercial tenant, it is important that you get in contact with an attorney as soon as possible to help resolve your dispute. 

Preventing and Addressing Commercial Real Estate Rental Disputes

If at all possible, an attorney should look over the lease you plan on offering to a prospective tenant. Language in the contract that may seem very clear to you could be misinterpreted or twisted by a tenant. Having an attorney draft your commercial lease is one of the best ways to head off future disputes. Some common problems that lead to legal conflict between commercial landlords and their tenants include: 

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Texas estate planning attorneyWhen you are still in the prime of your life, estate planning may not seem important at all. You have no reason to anticipate needing one anytime soon, and you may not have children or a spouse to worry about protecting. As a younger adult, you have also had less time to accumulate property, so you might not feel that deciding how to distribute it is very important. This could be a big mistake. Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Your personal circumstances, from your health to your wealth to who you would want your beneficiaries to be can change very quickly. Aside from that, there is much, much more to estate planning than simply making a will or trust. Wherever you are in life, having a legally sound estate plan in place can offer an additional layer of security to both you and your loved ones. A qualified lawyer can help you take the next steps. 

Why Should I Have an Estate Plan at All?

First, you should know that your estate plan will encompass important medical planning documents like a living will and health care powers of attorney. These documents are your voice should something happen so that you cannot speak for yourself. For most young people, your parents would be the de facto decision-makers in this type of situation. If you do not see eye-to-eye with them regarding how you would want to be treated - or not treated - these documents are not optional. 

Further, you might be surprised at how much property you actually have when you stop to add it all up. Think about what you owned two years ago even as opposed to now. Even without a family of your own, there is likely someone, whether that is a friend, family member, or charity that you would want your belongings to benefit. Estate planning is your opportunity to leave a legacy on the off chance that you never attain an advanced age. 

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San Antonio living will attorneyAdvance medical directives are extremely important for everyone. Even if you are young and healthy, you never know when an emergency could arise, and you will need those documents to fall back on. For those who are older or anticipate that they may become incapacitated in the near future, these documents are critical. Living wills, medical powers of attorney, and Do Not Resuscitate orders are your voice when you can no longer speak for yourself. Everyone has their own wishes regarding what types of care they would or would not want to receive should they become incapacitated and seriously ill. Creating an incapacity plan to express these wishes is the first step. Making sure that your wishes are going to be carried out in practice is equally important. 

Steps You Can Take Toward Ensuring That Your Wishes Are Respected

You know what your wishes are better than anyone else. Unfortunately, not everyone may agree with your decisions. Family members sometimes make irrational decisions during times of emotional stress, especially when a loved one seems to be dying. Some measures you can make to keep your documents in control of the situation include: 

  • Visibility - If you do not wish to be resuscitated, make sure that any emergency responders will see your DNR before they start the process of reviving you. Hang a copy above your bed or over your favorite chair. Other documents should be kept somewhere that they can be easily located. 
  • Choosing the right POA - Think very carefully about who to name as your medical power of attorney. Make sure this individual understands and respects your wishes and is prepared to carry them out, no matter what. For example, if you know that your sister has deeply held religious views about preserving life at all costs, when you would rather be allowed to pass away peacefully in certain situations, consider someone else. 
  • Distributing copies - Your health care team should have a copy of any advance directives you have made. If you live in a care home, they should have your documents on file, as should the hospital you normally use and any hospital you may be taken to in an emergency. Your power of attorney should also have copies. 
  • Clarity - Make sure that your wishes are expressed as clearly and explicitly as possible. Be as specific as you can. 
  • Put it in writing- If you do not already have advance directives, the time to make them is right now. No amount of talking about what your wishes would be with your loved ones can help you if you do not follow through with creating legally binding documents. 

Your attorney will also be able to give your further advice based on your own unique situation. 

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Texas estate planning lawyerLosing a close family member is always difficult, no matter what. Administrating a family member’s estate can be emotionally challenging even if they had a strong estate plan and the administration can be carried out smoothly. When there is no estate plan, the difficulty level can skyrocket for the surviving family members. During a period of grief, they will have the added stress of trying to sort out the estate without the decedent’s guidance.

In Texas, when a person passes away without an estate plan, their estate must go through a process called intestate probate. Essentially, in the absence of an estate plan, state law determines who should receive what. While the intestacy structure is designed to approximate what you probably would have wanted, there is no guarantee that this reflects your actual wishes. This is one of many reasons that estate planning is important for everyone. 

How Does Intestate Probate Work in Bexar County?

Probate is a much-dreaded process even when the decedent left a will and there are no disputes. It can be time-consuming and costly. Intestate probate can be even more complicated. The court will need to appoint a personal representative, and it might not be the person you personally would have chosen. 

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San Antonio estate planning lawyerUsing a portion of your estate to support a cause you believe in can be an excellent way to build a lasting legacy. When you leave money or property to a charity in an estate plan, you can keep making the world a better place long after you are gone. Your surviving loved ones will have the benefit of seeing the good you are still doing every day. The benefits of posthumous charitable giving are numerous. You will have options for how you go about designating a portion of your estate for charity. It is a good idea to talk over your options with a qualified estate planning lawyer who can help you make the most of any charitable giving you use your estate plan to accomplish. 

What You Should Know About Charitable Giving Through Estate Planning

Setting up your estate plan so that some funds go to a good cause does not have to be difficult or complicated, although you should have an attorney assist you. If you are considering using your estate to help out a charitable organization, some things to be aware of include: 

  • Tax benefits - Making a testamentary gift to a qualified nonprofit can help reduce any tax burdens on your estate. 
  • Types of gifts - The gift you make to a charity does not have to be strictly monetary. Many charities accept or even ask for other types of property to be donated. You could consider leaving property like clothing, furniture, or a vehicle to the organization of your choice. 
  • Put it in writing - Even if you believe that your surviving loved ones - often adult children - can be trusted to comply with your wishes and share a portion of your estate funds with your favorite charity, it is still a good idea to work your planned gift directly into your estate plan. Otherwise, your intention is not legally enforceable and you cannot be sure that your preferred cause will ever see a dime. 
  • Give any amount - You do not have to be a wealthy philanthropist to make a difference. Testamentary gifts to charity do not have to be anything grand. Even a couple hundred dollars or some gently used items could make a difference for your favorite nonprofit and those it serves. 
  • You have options - There are multiple different strategies for charitable giving in an estate plan. You can choose between making a one-time gift in a will, creating a charitable trust, or earmarking a portion of an existing trust to distribute money for charitable purposes over time. 

Your attorney will be able to help make sure you understand all your options for using your estate to benefit a cause you believe in. 

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San Antonio living will lawyerMany people think that the term “estate planning” is synonymous with writing a will. However, a will is only one component of the estate planning process. Estate planning is not only planning for the distribution of your assets upon your death, but also planning for your possible incapacitation. Many people are terminally ill and unable to make decisions for themselves long before they pass away. Planning for the possibility of incapacitation by illness or injury is very important. Nothing better exemplifies the need for incapacitation planning than the Terri Schiavo case.

Legal and Familial Turmoil Caused by Uncertainty

When she was just 26 years old, Terri Schiavo went into cardiac arrest. She suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen that put her in a vegetative state. Doctors had little hope of her ever regaining consciousness. Terri’s husband did not believe that his wife would want to live in that condition. In 1998, he sought to have her breathing tube removed so she could die naturally. However, Terri’s parents strongly disagreed. They wanted their daughter to be kept alive by any means necessary – even if she could never again interact with the world or communicate with loved ones.

The disagreement about whether to keep Terri alive through artificial means developed into a full-blown legal battle. By the time the matter was resolved, the case involved 14 separate appeals and numerous hearings. Eventually, the feeding tube was removed and Terri passed away.

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Comal County estate planning lawyerRevocable living trusts can offer a number of benefits over standalone wills. The idea of an irrevocable trust can be frightening for some, as it is not easily altered once it exists. Revocable trusts are more flexible and can accomplish quite a few different goals. These trusts can generally be administered rather smoothly and with little or no court oversight. Many people prefer to use this type of flexible trust as their main testamentary document. Before you choose a type of trust, make sure that you speak with an attorney and discuss the goals you want to accomplish and your financial situation. A qualified estate planning lawyer can help you decide whether a revocable living trust is the right estate planning tool for you. 

What Are the Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?

Some advantages of using this type of trust include: 

  • Avoiding probate - Probate can be a long, complicated process. Your beneficiaries may have a difficult time, especially if there are any hiccups during the probate process. More complex probate situations need to be handled by an attorney, unless your personal representative is rather experienced. 
  • Privacy - Wills are public documents. Trusts are not. Anyone can look at a will that has been submitted to a probate court, but only those who might have an interest in the trust can view the trust document. 
  • Flexibility - An irrevocable trust can have good asset protection features, but in most cases, it is permanent and unchangeable. With a revocable trust, you have the freedom to alter it or revoke it. You can add, remove, or change beneficiaries. You can move property in and out of the trust if you need to. 
  • Quick administration - Since you do not need to wait for a probate court - or any other court - to act, your estate property will be available to your beneficiaries very quickly. 
  • Security - To probate a will, someone must have the original will you executed. This is not true with trusts - even if the original gets lost or destroyed, or your beneficiaries forget where you put it, a copy will suffice. 
  • Continuity of management - It is quite common for a successor trustee to take over managing the trust well before the grantor has passed away. Should you become incapacitated, your successor trustee should be able to start managing the fund immediately and continue managing it after you pass away. If your trust principal is being used for investing or anything of that nature, there will be no interruption in management when you pass away. 

These are just a few benefits of a revocable living trust. 

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Texas special needs trusts attorneyIf there is anyone with special needs you would like to make one of your estate beneficiaries, a special needs trust is likely the best way to go about it. Also called a “supplemental needs trust,” these trusts allow you to leave money to a disabled adult without jeopardizing any of their public benefits. A trustee will be able to make distributions to the beneficiary to pay for needs or wants that Medicare or Social Security would not cover. However, because the beneficiary cannot withdraw funds at their own discretion, any funds in the trust are not counted as their income for purposes of need-based assistance programs. If you are trying to leave estate property to someone with special needs, your lawyer will most likely suggest using this type of trust. 

Why Do I Need to Use This Type of Trust to Provide for an Adult With Special Needs?

If you use a more traditional type of trust where regular distributions are made or they can withdraw funds at will they will need to report that money as income or a personal resource when applying for important government benefits. The same is true if you use a will and leave them a lump sum. This could lead to your loved one losing access to benefits that they rely on, forcing them to use the money you leave them to pay for things that an assistance program would have covered, such as medical care and housing. 

Especially because medical care for a person with special needs can be very costly, this money is likely to run out very quickly. They will then return to using public benefits in no better position than before they received your gift. 

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San Antonio beneficiary representation lawyerBecoming an estate beneficiary can bring a strange mix of emotions. On one hand, if you are inheriting something, it means that a loved one who cared about you has died, so you are grieving. On the other hand, you may be gaining a substantial amount of money, treasured family belongings, or even real estate. Depending on the type of testamentary plan your loved one used and how the administration of the estate is being handled, you might also be confused or upset. In many cases, the named estate administrator does a fine job and you will not need an attorney of your own. In other cases, something goes awry or the process is too complex for it to be handled without an attorney’s help. 

Do I Need My Own Attorney to Help Me Claim My Inheritance?

When everything goes smoothly, you might not need a lawyer during the estate administration process. However, if you encounter any of these situations while attempting to claim your inheritance, it may be in your best interest to work with an attorney: 

  • Strange surprises - Your Mom left half her estate to a church you have never heard of? That does not sound right. She was never particularly religious. Something is not right here. Could someone have pressured or coerced her into signing her will or trust? Was she tricked somehow? She was a bit confused towards the end. You might want to call an attorney to help sort out the situation. An estate contest may be in order.
  • No estate plan - Your brother did not trust lawyers so he never created an estate plan. Texas intestacy law will govern who gets what share of the estate, but who gets to keep his car? The family heirlooms that were in his possession? You might need an attorney to guide the intestate probate process, especially if other heirs are involved and an agreement will not be easily reached. 
  • Questionable administrator - Your uncle is doing a less-than-stellar job as the executor of your grandma’s estate. He is getting up there in age himself and may be showing some early signs of Alzheimer’s, which runs in your family. Or, he is not the most trustworthy individual. You are afraid that he might be keeping more than his fair share of grandma’s estate property. A lawyer can step in and ask the court to appoint a new personal representative. 

Otherwise, if there is anything going on that seems questionable, or it has been quite some time and you have yet to see your inheritance, you may want to get in touch with an attorney. 

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Texas estate planning lawyer Trusts are increasingly common vehicles for distributing estate assets. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be wealthy for a trust to work well in your estate plan. In fact, trusts can be great for smaller estates as they allow your surviving loved ones to skip probate - which can become costly.

Understanding the different types of trusts you can use may help you see how a trust might fit into your estate plan. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer, who can assess your situation and guide the process to meet your goals. 

What Types of Trusts Could I Use in My Estate Plan?

You may be familiar with the two main types of trusts - revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust can be changed after it is established while an irrevocable trust generally cannot, although there are exceptions. Some types of trusts available in Texas that you may not be familiar with include: 

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San Antonio estate litigation lawyerIf you have taken the time to create an estate plan, you probably want it to be enforceable as written. The last thing you want is your beneficiaries or relatives filing lawsuits related to your estate plan. A strong estate plan can help keep the peace among a family after the testator or grantor is gone. However, when an estate plan contains certain flaws, it can have the opposite of the intended effect. Estate litigation can lead to a lot of hurt feelings on both sides of the lawsuit and sometimes causes a permanent rift among a family. 

Some of these mistakes are relatively easy to make, especially if you attempt to do your estate planning on your own. Your best bet is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you avoid these potential pitfalls and more. 

What Mistakes in an Estate Plan Can Open the Door for Estate Litigation?

Avoiding future litigation at all costs is often a primary goal of estate planners, particularly if there is pre-existing family conflict. Attorneys who have been in this field long enough have seen the devastating effect estate litigation can have on the decedent’s family and loved ones. Some flaws or problems with an estate plan that can invite litigation include: 

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San Antonio fiduciary representation lawyerExecutors, estate administrators, trustees, and some powers of attorney are all considered fiduciaries in the realm of estate planning. Being a fiduciary is an enormous responsibility. Fiduciaries are required to act strictly in the interest of the individual, or the beneficiaries of the trust or estate they represent without considering their own personal interests. They are required to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, and are not to exploit their position for personal gain in any way. Unless you are a professional fiduciary, you can easily find yourself in over your head. An attorney who is experienced at aiding fiduciaries can help you avoid potential problems, or maybe help resolve existing problems. 

When Should a Fiduciary Consider Finding an Attorney?

If you are simply serving as personal representative for a close relative’s small estate - and the rest of the family is getting along - you may be able to complete your duties on your own, without a lawyer’s help. For more complex or high-conflict situations, it may be in your best interest to seek legal assistance. You may want to get in touch with an attorney in these situations: 

  • Contested estate - If you are an estate representative (such as an executor) and you have a feeling that a contest is imminent, you may want to be represented by your own attorney. Estate contests can be legally complex affairs requiring litigation. A lawyer can also take steps to protect you against any accusation of wrongdoing. 
  • Trust management - Managing a trust can be quite challenging. Especially if you intend to begin investing funds contained in the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries, you will need to tread carefully. A few easy-to-make mistakes could deplete funds, introduce tax liabilities, or interfere with asset-protection features. Consulting an attorney first can protect both the trust and you. 
  • Power of attorney conflicts - If you are serving as the agent for a living principal in a high-conflict situation, an attorney can help you avoid missteps that could lead to litigation. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest—for example, if you are the financial power of attorney for a close relative whose estate you would likely benefit from—could cause problems. 
  • Tax and accounting obligations - Figuring out how to handle an estate or trust’s taxes is not easy. You may also be legally required to keep a detailed accounting of all a trust or estate’s assets, expenses, and distributions. You would be far from the first person if you find yourself a bit in over your head. An estate planning attorney can take some of this burden off you and help ensure compliance. 

The benefits of being represented by a lawyer as a fiduciary are numerous. Working with an attorney is one of the best ways fiduciaries can protect themselves. 

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Texas incapacity planning lawyerMany older adults would prefer to avoid being placed under guardianship, and for good reason. The process can be expensive, possibly embarrassing, and you have little or no control over it once it has begun. Fortunately, there are ways to head off this possibility if you plan ahead just a bit. An estate planning attorney can help you take important steps to avoid the need for guardianship in the future. 

Why Avoid a Guardianship?

A guardianship proceeding takes place in open court and generally involves the introduction of evidence regarding your physical and mental health and status. These things are highly personal, and the loss of privacy alone is enough reason for many to seek an alternative. Aside from that, the person to be placed under guardianship does not have a say in who their guardian will be. This is decided by a judge who does not know you, your family members, or your preferences.

The process can become quite expensive as well. The court will continue to supervise the guardianship after it has been granted, which can easily add up to thousands over the years.

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San Antonio estate planning lawyerEveryone who disinherits an immediate family member has their own personal reasons for doing so. These reasons tend to fall into one of a few categories. If there is someone who would naturally inherit from you, such as your spouse, adult children, or parents if you have neither, and you do not want them to receive a part of your estate, there are a few steps you may need to take. It is not always good enough to simply omit a natural heir’s name from your will. Always tell your estate planning attorney if you intend to disinherit an immediate relative so that they can take steps to make sure your wishes are respected. 

What Are the Most Common Reasons for Disinheriting a Close Relative? 

The decision to leave a close family member who would otherwise inherit out of your estate plan can be a difficult one. However, there are numerous very valid reasons for doing so. The more common ones include: 

  • Estrangement - You have not seen or heard from the individual for years and no longer want to leave anything to them as a result. 
  • Needs - In some cases, it is quite reasonable to consider the needs of your would-be heirs when making an estate plan. For example, if you have two living adult children, one of whom is independently wealthy, and one of whom has significant disabilities and cannot provide for themselves, you may wish to leave your entire estate to the one who truly needs the money. 
  • Prior gifts - If you have already provided significant financial support or gifts to a potential heir during your lifetime, you may want to divide your estate among others. 
  • Responsibility - There might be an individual you would not necessarily trust with an inheritance. If, for example, someone closely related to you has a drug addiction, leaving them a large sum of money may ultimately do more harm than good. In some cases, using a trust rather than a will to make controlled distributions to an irresponsible relative may solve this problem.

It is important to note that there are limitations on one’s ability to disinherit a spouse. Texas is a community property state, and your spouse is entitled to keep their half of the community property no matter what you put in your will. Additionally, you cannot disinherit a minor child. Your child is entitled to receive support from both parents - you could no more disinherit a minor child than you could simply stop financially supporting them during your lifetime. 

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Texas estate planning lawyerPeople have a lot of different reasons for avoiding estate planning. Some are uncomfortable thinking about their mortality or the possibility that they could become incapacitated later in life. This is quite common. However, having a plan in place can actually alleviate some of the fear surrounding these things. Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone, or knowing that your wishes would be followed should you become incapacitated, may give you some peace of mind. 

If you have been reluctant to start the process of estate planning, now is the time. The sooner you get on board with this type of planning, the sooner you can stop worrying about it. With the help of a qualified estate attorney, the process may be faster and easier than you think. 

What if I Pass Away Without a Will or Trust?

Testamentary planning - deciding what will happen to your property when you are no longer here to enjoy it - can ease the stress on your loved ones at a time when they will be grieving. When you leave a will or trust, the process of administering your estate is likely to go relatively smoothly. However, if there is no testamentary plan in place, your family’s only option will be going through intestate probate. 

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San Antonio estate planning attorneyThe differences between wills and trusts are sometimes a source of confusion. Deciding whether you should have a will, a trust, or both, can be difficult, and is best done with the help of an attorney who understands your situation and needs. Everything from your family structure to the size of your estate to the nature of the property you own can influence the type of testamentary documents you use. In many cases, both a will and a trust can be used in conjunction to form a strong, cohesive estate plan. Because there are so many variables at play, it is generally a good idea to work with an attorney to create these important legal documents. 

Who Needs a Will?

Those with minor children almost invariably need a will for the purpose of naming a guardian. Parents can designate the individual they would like to become their children’s guardians in the event that both parents pass away while the children are still minors. 

The major downside of a will is going through probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming. However, Texas does offer a simplified probate procedure for smaller estates. A simple will may be the most expedient way to pass along estate property for those with less complex estates. 

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Bexar County estate planning lawyerThe term “irrevocable” frightens a good many people out of taking advantage of this type of trust. Many people are afraid of putting their assets into a trust that they will not be able to take back later, which is entirely reasonable. However, there may be less risk involved with creating an irrevocable trust than you might think. The benefits of using an irrevocable trust may outweigh the risks in a number of situations as well. Finally, there are legal means for modifying even an irrevocable trust under certain circumstances. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you determine what types of trusts make sense as a part of your comprehensive estate plan. 

What Are the Benefits of an Irrevocable Trust?

The major goal for most people who create an irrevocable trust is asset protection. Assets contained in an irrevocable trust are given a rather high level of protection against creditors, judgments stemming from lawsuits, certain taxes, and others. Those the named beneficiaries owe money to will not be able to access funds contained in the trust. Since the beneficiaries cannot make voluntary withdrawals, they generally cannot be compelled to make withdrawals to pay debts. 

Is There Any Way to Modify an Irrevocable Trust?

Yes and no. In general, you cannot revoke or cancel an irrevocable trust by its very design. However, should the situation drastically change so that modifying the trust becomes necessary, there are legal strategies that can be employed. The particular strategy that your attorney may suggest will depend on a number of factors, including the language used in the creation of the trust itself. 

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San Antonio estate planning lawyerLearning that a loved one who has passed away left no testamentary estate plan can be upsetting. You may wonder why your family member did not take the time to draw up a will or trust. Alternatively, you may have discovered that while your loved one tried to write down some testamentary wishes, he did not do so in a way that is legally effective. There are a wide variety of reasons that some individuals do not have any estate plans. Many people simply do not think they need one, but they are generally mistaken. If you have been thinking about beginning an estate plan but are hesitant, speaking with an attorney may put your concerns to rest. 

Why Do Some People Not Leave Estate Plans?

Estate planning can sometimes be a very personal field of law. The topic can be a sensitive one for some individuals or families. However, the estate property will eventually need to be handled one way or another. It is much easier on surviving loved ones when there is a solid plan in place to guide them. Reasons people may refuse estate planning include: 

  • Estate size - Those who expect to leave smaller estates may feel that creating an estate plan is unnecessary. This is not the case - using a simple will or trust to manage a small estate can save your loved ones time and money in the future. 
  • Age - Younger people may not see the need for a will or trust. They may not have a spouse or children, and they rarely expect to pass away any time soon. However, planning for the unexpected is a wise move. When a death is unexpected, it can create turmoil for the surviving families. Having an estate plan in place can ease the burden on a family during what could be a very difficult time. 
  • Discomfort - Many people simply are not comfortable with the thought of sitting down and deciding who should receive their property when they die. Certainly, considering your own mortality can be unpleasant, but it is important. The process may not take as long as you expect, and it will be hugely beneficial for your loved ones. 
  • Error - Sadly, some people think they have a valid will in place and they do not. Wills made without the assistance of a Texas attorney may not be legally effective. 

If you have other concerns that are keeping you from estate planning, talking them over with an attorney may help. The process may be easier and more helpful than you think. 

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Texas probate lawyerMany people these days aim to avoid probate entirely by using trusts to control their estate property. However, probate is inevitable for some. Whether your family member died intestate, used a will, or ended up with a loose asset controlled by a pour-over will, you may need to go through the Texas probate process. Many people find having the assistance of an experienced attorney invaluable during this time. Depending on the size of the estate and what, if any, problems arise, probate can potentially be a long and complicated process. 

What Challenges Often Come Up During Probate? 

Even when it seems that everything is in order and probate should go as smoothly as probate can go, unexpected problems can arise and complicate the situation. A few common reasons that probate may be more challenging than usual include: 

  • Missing property - It sometimes happens that property identified in a will cannot be located. This often involves specific personal items. A will may provide, for example, that one child should receive a diamond necklace. If no one can find the necklace described when it comes time to administer the estate, the situation will need to be addressed. The decedent may have already sold or given away the necklace, but there could be a more nefarious reason for the property’s absence. 
  • Problematic executor - The executor of an estate has a lot depending on them. When an executor is unwilling, unresponsive to communications, or ineffective, getting through probate can feel like an uphill battle. Enlisting an attorney to assist may be one solution. It is sometimes possible to remove an executor.
  • Will contests - Sometimes, a dissatisfied relative who feels slighted will bring a challenge in the hopes of increasing her share of the estate. Other times, there are legitimate reasons to question the validity of a will. You yourself may have reason to suspect that something is amiss with your loved one’s will - perhaps you believe they were coerced, or not competent to sign s will. Regardless of the reason, will contests will bring probate to a screeching halt. 
  • International estate property - If the estate involves property located in a country other than the United States, probate is likely going to be quite complicated. You will likely need professional assistance to move overseas property through a probate court. 
  • Missing will - You know your family member made a will. You have talked about it at length. However, when the time comes to administer the estate, the will is nowhere to be found. There are ways of trying to locate missing estate plans, but you will need to do so in a timely fashion and may require a lawyer’s help. 

If you are facing any probate challenge, the situation may feel impossible. Probate can be difficult even under the best circumstances. Fortunately, most probate issues can be overcome by an experienced probate lawyer. 

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Texas estate planning attorneyFor parents who still have minor children to worry about, protecting them is probably your number one estate planning goal. Many parents would want their entire estate to benefit their children should the child be left without a suitable living parent. Leaving estate property to a minor in Texas can be slightly more complicated than leaving it to an adult. Minors cannot take possession and control of their inheritance until they reach legal adulthood. A responsible adult must step in and manage the inheritance for the children’s benefit until then. Often, multiple estate planning tools are needed to adequately protect children’s interests and well-being. 

What Happens if I Leave Property to Children in a Will? 

The probate court will need to appoint a guardian of the estate to manage any assets left to the children. There is no guarantee that the guardian you want will be the one appointed. This matter is left to the probate court, which will do what it thinks is in your children’s best interest. The guardian would be a fiduciary, meaning that he is responsible for managing the estate property strictly in the children’s best interest. 

However, courts closely supervise guardianships for minors. Every expenditure of estate funds must be accounted for. The entire process can be both complicated and expensive. Fortunately, there are ways around this. 

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