will and estate planning seminar in Houston

Trusted Advice on Wills for Houston Families

June 22, 2022

Trusted Advice on Wills for Houston Families Do you have a will? Is your will valid? Who can manage your finances if you cannot? Can your family make healthcare decisions on your behalf? How do you make sure your doctor follows your wishes? Attorney Cynthia Fronterhouse enjoys helping Houston families and individuals in the area of estate planning, wills, trusts and probate. Attend one of her upcoming (FREE) seminars or contact her today for a one-on-one consultation. Get the trusted advice on wills for Houston families.

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life estates in Texas

Life Estates In Texas Real Estate

March 15, 2022

Life Estates in Texas Real Estate: Formation, Rights, And Duties In Texas there is a limited transfer called a life estate. This transfer is limited in duration by a life. Due to the limited nature of such a transfer, a life estate brings with it a number of unique rights and duties. The Basics Of A Life Estate In Texas A life estate is most commonly granted for the life of the grantee. The grantee receives a possessory interest in the estate until the death of the measuring life. At that time, the interest reverts back to either the original grantor or to a third party, called a remainderman. In Texas, no particular or specific words are required to create a life estate, as long as there is clear intent that a life estate is to be created. Common phrases indicating the creation of a life estate include “for life” or “until his/her death.” Due to the nature of a life estate, a life tenant has certain rights and duties unique to this form of ownership. Rights Of A Life Tenant A life tenant in Texas has the following rights: The right to possession of the property: Even though a life tenant is not the only party who has an interest in the property, the life tenant has the exclusive right to possession, management, and control of the property.   The right to all rents and profits during possession: If the property produces income, the life tenant has the exclusive right to it. This includes royalties from an oil and gas well if a producing well was in existence at the time the life estate was granted.   The right to sell, lease, mortgage, or otherwise alienate the life estate in the property. This right is still limited by the measuring life. For example, a life tenant may lease the property for the duration of the measuring life only.   The right to invoke Texas homestead law, If applicable.   Duties Of A Life Tenant While in possession of the land, a life tenant owes the following duties to future interest holders: The duty to pay ordinary taxes on the land and interest on a mortgage: A life tenant has a duty to pay taxes to the extent the property produces income. A life tenant is also responsible for interest payments on the properties mortgage, but not the principle.   The duty not to commit waste: The most significant duty of a life tenant is that they may not use the property in such a way as to decrease the value of the property. In general, this requires that a life tenant exercise the ordinary care of a prudent person to preserve and protect the estate. If you have any questions about a life estate, contact attorney Cynthia Fronterhouse.

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Simple Steps of Probating A Properly Drafted Will in Texas

December 17, 2021

– A service offered for a FLAT FEE by Cynthia Fronterhouse FILING THE APPLICATION FOR PROBATE WITH ORIGINAL WILL When you lose a loved one, the original will is filed with the proper court. An application asking the court to appoint the executor listed in the will is filed with the court. After filing the will, the clerk of the court will post a notice at the court advising all interested parties that the will has been filed. The notice must remain posted for at least 10 days. The purpose of this waiting period is to give those who wish to contest a will time to do so.  If no one comes forward to contest the will, the courts will move forward with confirming the will’s validity. However, a will can be challenged at any time after the will is offered to probate and up to two years after a will has been admitted for probate. HOLDING A HEARING A hearing is held before a probate judge. During this hearing, the judge will recognize the decedent’s death, confirm that the individual applying to be executor is qualified and verify that the will is valid. Once the hearing is complete, the judge admits the will to probate and appoints the executor. The clerk then issues “letters testamentary” to the executor, which serve as notice to third parties that the executor has authority to act on the estate’s behalf. INVENTORY, APPRAISEMENT AND LIST OF CLAIMS The executor now has the responsibility to inventory and appraise the deceased person’s estate within 90 days of the hearing. These responsibilities include notifying beneficiaries of the will, posting a notice to creditors, discharging debts, filing the decedent’s final federal tax return, and otherwise settling the estate. The executor may also be responsible for selling estate assets. Attorney Cynthia Fronterhouse can assist with many of these duties for a Flat Fee.  

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Is your will valid?

June 10, 2021

Is your will valid? To make a valid Will in Texas, you must have legal capacity, testamentary capacity, testamentary intent and certain formalities must be followed. If a Will does not meet all of the requirements set forth by the statutes, it will be declared invalid, meaning that your estate could be distributed according to a statutory formula rather than the way you would have preferred. Dying without a Will – The Complexities of Texas Intestate Laws Without a will you have no choice as to who will administer your estate, who will be the guardian of your minor children or the custodian of the estate of your minor children, or who will receive your property in what proportions or when. WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED TO PROBATE A WILL. . .One of the biggest concerns for people contemplating the probate process is the expense required in fully probating an estate. Luckily, a properly drafted Will simplifies the probate process. Independent administration in Texas allows Executors and Administrators to serve largely independent of Court supervision. As a result, the probate process in Texas is streamlined and efficient. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE THE SURVIVING SPOUSE. . .In order to ensure that all estate property is fully and efficiently distributed, it is recommended that the surviving spouse probate the Will at the death of the first spouse. Community property residences are generally owned as tenants-in-common; thus, if the surviving spouse later attempts to sell the home, some form of probate or estate administration must be initiated to transfer full title on the house into the surviving spouse’s name. REMEMBER: Texas Probate Code only provides four (4) years to probate a Will. After four (4) years, all heirs must be notified of any attempt to probate a Will, timely and costly. Learn more about our will and estate planning services.

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Who Will the Court Appoint as Guardian for Your Children?

May 18, 2021

If you die without a will that appoints a guardian for your children, it will be left up to the Court to decide. The Court will consider what is in the child’s best interest. It may not be who you would want appointed as your child’s guardian. When you are choosing a guardian, make sure you choose well. Here are some items to consider when you are choosing a guardian: Religious preference: If parents have specific wishes about their child’s spiritual practices, this is a conversation to be had with the guardians they appoint. Physical ability — now and later: This is especially an important case with children who have special needs who may require more continuing care as they get older. Emotional stability: Your 22-year-old artist brother who sleeps in a lot may not be ready for this. Location: If your sister in California is going to get the kids but you live in New York, is she supposed to come live in your house or would the kids move to her home in California? Does she live in a good school district? If your chosen guardian’s location would mean uprooting the children, don’t leave these questions to surviving family members to figure out on their own. If your appointed guardian lives outside the United States or even a time zone away, it’s especially critical to consult a lawyer, as different states have different laws about moving minors out of state. A deep bench:  If the person is unable to care for your child, who is the back-up choice? If the person you chose to care for your child is unable or unwilling to become a guardian and you haven’t named an alternate, the court will select a guardian. Financial responsibility: There are two types of guardians of a child: the legal guardian — who has physical custody of  the child, kisses boo-boos and signs permission slips — and a fiduciary guardian, who manages the deceased parents’ finances set aside for the child.  The fiduciary role may be played by a conservator (sometimes used by courts in lieu of a guardian), personal representative, attorney-in-fact or custodian if there is not a trust and a trustee. It’s not necessary to divide the two roles, but it’s an option if you have concerns about your legal guardian’s money management skills or your fiduciary’s care-taking skills, or if you want to ensure a larger team of people is responsible for your child’s well-being after your death. If you do name a fiduciary guardian, make sure it’s someone familiar with your child’s needs and lifestyle so that there won’t be tensions over whether horseback-riding lessons are a luxury or an important source of comfort and consistency for a bereaved child. Teamwork: Will your physical guardian and fiduciary guardian work well together? If you do divide the roles between financial custody and guardianship, it’s important to consider whether the two parties will get along and work together for the sake of your child. Ask permission before you appoint someone to these important roles. As always, open lines of communication are critical to finding the best […]

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