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Beneficiaries under a Will must have the Will probated for it to be effective.  Unfortunately, the person with the Will sometimes sits on their hands.  For example, what should a person do when a parent has died, but the step-mom (whom you believe has custody of the Will) isn’t doing anything with it?      Out of respect for grief and family harmony, children often allow some time to pass after a death before asking a step-parent about the deceased biological parent’s Will that they know or believe exists.  But, after some time has elapsed, the children would like to know whether there is, in fact, a Will and whether anything is going to be done with it.   Why does this happen?   This …

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Easter is almost here, so in that vein this week’s post looks at planning for a “nest-egg”. For most of us, that means talking about retirement accounts, whether using an IRA, SEP, 401k, or 403b. A budget for how to use retirement savings is good, but it is also vital to make sure retirement accounts are aligned with your overall estate plan. Retirement accounts can often hold the bulk of assets left to loved ones, so planning for a retirement account may, in fact, be the central focus of an estate plan. This also includes making sure you have a plan for access to your retirement savings if you ever needed help managing your finances during retirement.   RETIREMENT PLANNING & POWERS OF ATTORNEY   …

What is Probate?

In Blended Families, Probate by Tarleton

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The probate process in Texas is often misunderstood.  The term “probate” simply means the court-supervised process for handling the estate of a deceased person. Probate includes paying off any debts, expenses, and taxes, and the distribution of any remaining property according to the Will (if a valid Will exists) or to the heirs under Texas laws regarding intestacy (“intestacy” means no valid Will exists).   It is important to note that, under Texas Estates Code Section 256.003, a Will must be filed for probate within four years after the death of the testator (the person who made the Will).  After four years, a Will may be filed as a “muniment of title” if the applicant is not “in default”.   Initial probate steps If there is a …