How to Make Sure Your IRA Goes to the Right Beneficiaries

Aside from your home, your individual retirement account (IRA) may be the biggest single asset you own. Contrary to popular belief, however, your IRA isn’t likely to pass to your heirs according to the terms of your will. Instead, most IRAs are structured as payable-on-death (POD) accounts, much … [Read more...]

Is Probate Necessary for Mom or Dad’s Small Estate?

We’ve devoted several articles lately to distinguishing which assets are considered part of an estate after a person passes away and how to avoid probate for some or all of your assets prior to death. Those questions come up frequently regarding large estates. Today, we are going to switch gears and … [Read more...]

Does All of a Person’s Property Have to Go through Probate?

The short answer to this question is no, but a more accurate answer is it depends on whether the deceased wanted to avoid probate for some assets and, if so, how much advance planning was done. A well-structured, comprehensive estate plan can take advantage of legal tax savings and transfer property … [Read more...]

Understanding Probate in Texas

When someone in Texas dies owning property, the probate process works to transfer ownership of the property to the person’s surviving heirs and pay claims against the estate. After claims have been paid, if the deceased person left a valid will, the property will go to the heirs named in the will. … [Read more...]

What Is Estate Planning and Why Do I Need It?

Estate planning is not just for the old and wealthy. Even if you are young and have just a few assets, an estate plan can help minimize taxes, provide for yourself and loved ones and ultimately distribute property according to your wishes when you’re gone. As your wealth grows, you can adjust your … [Read more...]

Texas Judge Orders Billionaire Harold Simmons’ Last Will and Testament Released

Last week, we wrote about the matter of recently-deceased Harold Simmons’ estate, and the estate attorneys’ attempts to seal the case. As it turns out, Probate Judge Michael Miller decided there was no compelling reason to keep the will from being a matter of public record. He did, however, allow … [Read more...]

Is My Last Will and Testament Going to Be a Matter of Public Record?

This is something not many people give much thought to, but a person’s will, like most other court filings, generally becomes a matter of public record after it has been submitted to the probate court.  With few exceptions, such as juvenile court proceedings, virtually all court filings are … [Read more...]

Is a Living Trust Right for You?

Clients who want to avoid the probate process and those who want to minimize tax liability may benefit from creating a living trust to transfer property during their lifetimes while still maintaining the use and benefit of the property. What is a living trust A living trust, or inter vivos trust, … [Read more...]

Should I Use a Living Trust to Protect My Property from Probate?

A living trust can be a useful tool for keeping property out of probate if it is used wisely. An effective estate plan may use a living trust to set aside certain property for a certain beneficiary, while preserving the use of the property for yourself during your lifetime. But, transferring … [Read more...]

Transferring Title by Will Without Administration

Avoiding probate and estate administration There are times when a person dies with a Will, but administration of the estate is not necessary. This may happen when a spouse dies, leaving everything to the other spouse, whose name is already on the bank accounts, vehicle titles and real estate. … [Read more...]