Texas law provides for a shortened, less complicated, less expensive form of probate in specific circumstances called probate as a muniment of title. This funny-sounding procedure really means that your loved one’s will is officially recognized as valid by the probate court and placed of public record as notice to third parties to honor the terms of the will for transfer of property. This is a very simple process compared to a full, regular probate.
A fairly new estate planning trick that is extremely effective and low cost is a deed with a retained life estate or “Lady Bird” deed. This tool can be used for all types of real estate interests.
Estate planning isn't just for rich or older individuals. Even young, asset-poor 20-somethings should start thinking about how their property will be distributed in the event of a tragedy. Drawing up an estate plan is not as much an action you need to take for yourself, but one you should take for your loved ones.
Just like an older individual, a young, single person has as much need for a will to designate who would receive anything in the event of his or her death. Whether you have a little or a lot, without a will, the State of Texas will assume your parents should receive your estate. This may not be your preference. Therefore, creating an estate plan will help ensure your wishes are met.
In addition, in the event of your passing, a loved one would also have to spend a great deal of money to go through an estate administration process. If you draw up a will, you could prevent your parents from enduring this stressful, expensive situation.
If you have ever gone through a hospital admissions process, you’ve likely been asked if you have a living will (also known as a directive to physicians) and a medical power of attorney.
Hopefully, you recognize the issue before it’s too late to pre-plan. The time to seriously review all of a loved one's financial and estate planning affairs is in the early stages of Dementia or Alzheimer's. Progression of the degree of incapacity varies from person to person. Obviously, a visit to a physician for a diagnosis and treatment plan should be your first priority. Then a visit to an attorney should be next.
Pre-planning is necessary to avoid needing a guardianship. People live much longer these days, and Dementia and Alzheimers are a common issue families face with loved ones or themselves. Pre-planning to deal with incapacity is very smart.
Failing to pre-plan means that it may be necessary to open a court-administered guardianship. This proceeding is very complicated, time consuming, and expensive. The time to avoid all this is before you or your loved one becomes incapacitated. If you are your loved one are already incompetent, it is too late! Guardianship is the only option then.
This blog is part two of What Do I Do If A Loved One Dies Without A Will. Part One discussed an Application To Determine Heirship proceeding, the more formal court proceeding to determine heirs and order transfer of property.
Sometimes, we determine after a review of the assets of the deceased loved one that a more informal, less expensive “Affidavit Of Heirship” would be sufficient.
It is not always certain that third parties will accept the informal “Affidavit,” but because it is so much less expensive than the formal court proceeding, it may be worth trying this first.