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A revocable trust in Texas is a type of trust that can be amended or revoked by the grantor, also known as the trust creator, at any time during their lifetime. This means that the grantor has the ability to change the terms of the trust or even dissolve the trust completely. The grantor is also typically the trustee, which means they have control over the trust assets during their lifetime.

A revocable trust is often used as an estate planning tool to avoid probate, which is the legal process of transferring a deceased person’s assets to their heirs. By placing assets in a revocable trust, they can be transferred to the beneficiaries without going through probate, which can be time-consuming and costly. It also allows for more privacy and can be useful for protecting assets from creditors.

It is worth noting that a revocable trust becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s death or incapacity, and the trustee will manage the trust according to the instructions in the trust agreement.

What is a revocable trust?

Bexar County Probate

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. In Texas, the probate process begins with the filing of a petition for probate with the appropriate probate court. The petition must include the decedent’s will, if one exists, and a list of the decedent’s assets and liabilities. The court will then appoint an executor, who is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estate.

The executor’s first task is to give notice to all interested parties, including heirs and creditors, that probate has begun. They will also be responsible for collecting and inventorying the decedent’s assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs according to the terms of the will or state law.

If the decedent died without a will, the court will determine the rightful heirs according to Texas’ laws of intestacy.

It’s important to note that probate can be time-consuming and expensive process, and in Texas, the court process can take anywhere from several months to several years to complete. Additionally, probate proceedings are public records and anyone can access them.

Probate can be avoided by creating a trust, or by transferring assets to beneficiaries through other means, like payable on death accounts, joint tenancy with right of survivorship and beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities.

Bexar County Probate

What Is the Difference Between a Dependent and Independent Administration?

During probate administration, either the court handles all the affairs (dependent administration) or assigns them to an estate administrator (independent administration). Get yourself a Bexar County Probate attorney who understands the difference and can help you make changes to get the results you want.

Explanation of each:

  • Dependent administration: The court approves every sale and distribution of property and assets, as well as the payment of estate liabilities. Every step of the process is micro-managed.
  • Independent administration: The court assigns an administrator to oversee the daily affairs of a decedent’s estate. This individual has the power to make all estate-related decisions and reports back to the court.

Dependent versus Independent Administration

Bexar County Probate

As you go through the process of probating wills in Texas, there are many legal terms that might be unfamiliar or unclear to you. Allow Tayor & Lopez to help you traverse these questions. It is our job to make you comfortable and help you learn.

Terms include:

  • Decedent: When probating a will in Texas, you will likely encounter the term “decedent” often. This is the legal term for the person who has died and whose estate is in the probate process.
  • Will: This is the legal document in which a decedent has outlined how they would like assets distributed among their loved ones.
  • Estate: In the state of Texas, an estate consists of all the decedent’s assets. These include, but aren’t limited to: Cash, real estate holdings (homes, land, etc.), stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, vehicles, and personal belongings.
  • Beneficiaries: These are the loved ones named in a will (or determined by the court if there is no will) who will receive assets from the decedent’s estate.
  • Executor: When a person dies with a valid will in place, the document typically names a person to serve as executor of the estate. The chief duties of the executor will be to inventory and catalogue the decedent’s assets; pay debts of the estate; pay taxes of the estate; file lawsuits for claims owed to the estate; and distribute assets from the estate to the beneficiaries as named in the decedent’s last will and testament.
  • Administrator: When the decedent has passed on without leaving a valid will and no executor has been named, Texas law requires that an administrator be named to carry out the duties of an executor.

Be sure to contact the Bexar County Probate Attorney you can trust. Call us now!

Common Probate Terms

Generally speaking, everyone should take care of basic estate planning. In other words, everyone should make sure that their wishes followed through after their death. By doing so, your family can be spared from unnecessary expenses and delays. Additionally, you’ll have someone you trust in charge of important matters in the instance that you are unable to do so yourself.

Adults in the state of Texas should have the following estate planning documents:

  • A will, to leave assets and also to name your executor
  • A durable power of attorney for finances, which names a designated person to manage your finances in instances where it’s necessary
  • The living will, (In the state Texas, this is called a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates or an advanced directive), this document spells out your end-of-life wishes
  • Medical Power of Attorney, a document that names someone to ensure your health care wishes are carried through

Texas Estate Planning

Residents of Texas should also look into probate-avoidance. While Texas’ probate is better than other states in terms of simplicity, people tend to prefer to avoid probate court proceedings altogether. The reason for this is that avoiding probate saves families money and hassle. In order to avoid probate, you’ll need to plan ahead of time. Alternatively, your family may be subject to a probate court proceeding. This court proceeding will give families the authority to transfer your assets to those who inherit them. Methods such as a living trust can help avoid probate..

Bexar County Probate

Bexar County Estate Planning

Article below inspired by Texas Law Help.

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without a will (die “intestate”), you cannot choose who will inherit your money, real estate, property, belongings, insurance and retirement benefits (your “estate”). Instead, your estate will be divided according to Texas law. Without a will, your siblings and grandchildren are not likely to inherit anything from you. Your estate could be tied up in a lengthy probate process involving a court-appointed attorney, filing fees, and a court hearing—all paid for with money taken out of your estate.

With a will, you get to decide what happens to your property.  The person you choose (the “executor”) sees to it that your property is distributed the way you intended.

The Law Firm of Taylor and Lopez, PLLC can help guide these choices. Who do you pick as your executor? What percentages should you leave each person? What about my life insurance? These are all questions that an experienced law firm like Taylor and Lopez, PLLC can answer.

If I’m married, won’t my property automatically pass to my spouse?

No. Without a will, your estate will be divided under state law depending on whether it is classified as separate or community property.

Community property is all property acquired by both spouses during the marriage, including all cash, bank accounts, retirement, personal property and real estate, unless it is considered separate property.

Separate property is property owned by a spouse before the marriage, or acquired during the marriage by one spouse as gift, an inheritance, or through a personal injury settlement. 

I have children and I’m not married. Will it go to my children?

Yes. Community property only applies if you are married. If you are not married, at the time of death, all of your children, born or adopted, in or out of wedlock will share equally in your estate if paternity is not at issue. You may not want a child who is better off financially to inherit the same as one who needs more financial help. Without a will, your grandchildren won’t get anything unless your child dies before you. If your child dies, your child’s share will pass to his or her children (your grandchildren) in equal shares. If you want to leave something to your grandchildren, you should make a will.

I’m not married and have no children. Who will inherit my property?

If both parents are alive, each parent will get ½. If both parents are dead, your estate will be divided equally among your siblings. If one parent is alive, that parent will get ½ half and the remaining ½ will be divided among your siblings. If none of your siblings survive you but one parent is still living, that parent takes all.

Who will care for my minor children?

The other parent, if parental rights have not been terminated.

If the other parent is dead (or parents die at the same time), your children will go to the grandparents, but a court may have to decide which set of grandparents will be guardians. In a will, you can name the person(s) you want to be guardians of your children.

Bexar County Probate

Why do I need a will? San Antonio Attorney for a Will

Types of Guardianship:

  • A guardian of the person makes decisions regarding the life and person of the ward.
  • A guardian of the estate makes decisions regarding the financial affairs of the ward.
  • Plenary guardianship is a full guardianship of the person in which the ward retains no rights whatsoever.
  • Partial guardianship is a limited guardianship in which the ward retains some rights, such as the right to vote.

Filing for guardianship can be a tasking process. Make sure you have an attorney with an understanding of what goes on in a guardianship proceeding.

Allow The Law Firm of Taylor & Lopez, PLLC to guide your guardianship issues.

We are your Bexar County Probate, Bexar County Estate Planning, and Bexar County Guardianship source.

What are the different types of guardianship?

At the Law Firm of Taylor & Lopez, PLLC, we encourage you to get a will. So many issues with estate planning can be solved simply by drafting a will. However, if you do not get a will, what happens? We will discuss that below:

When someone dies without a will in Texas, the decedent’s intestate “heirs” are entitled to the property in the estate.

  • Heirs are named by the court, according to the law set out in Texas Estates Code Chapter 201.
    • Depending on who survives the decedent, heirs can include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children and their descendants, father and mother, brothers and sisters and their descendants, grandfather and grandmother and their descendants, and other relatives.
  • Once a court names the heirs, the heirs’ property share is calculated according to the law set out in Texas Estates Code Chapter 201.

Because a Small Estate Affidavit form can only be used when someone dies without a will, the SEA form will need to list detailed information on who the heirs are, and what share of property they should get.

Do not let yourself be someone that gets caught without proper estate planning. Contact The Law Firm of Taylor & Lopez, PLLC, now. Your Bexar County Probate resource.

What happens when there’s no will?

When can I use a small estate affidavit to probate an estate in Texas?

It’s important to find a Bexar County Estate Planning attorney that understands when probate is needed, when probate is not needed, and/or how to get around probate. The Law Firm of Taylor and Lopez, PLLC is ready to help you!

Small Estate Affidavits (SEAs) can be an affordable way to transfer property to a decedent’s heirs. You may be able to use an SEA to probate an estate in Texas if you meet all of the requirements of Texas Estates Code Chapter 205. The important requirements include:

  • The decedent died without a will.
  • The decedent left less than $75,000 in property (not including homestead property and exempt property).
  • The assets are worth more than the debts.
    • (Note: When calculating the value of the debts and the assets, do not consider any mortgages or debts secured by exempt property as debts, and do not consider homestead and exempt property as assets.)
  • The only real property owned by the decedent was decedent’s homestead property, and the real property will be inherited only by person(s) homesteading with the decedent at the time decedent died—decedent’s surviving spouse and minor child(ren) who resided on property with decedent.
  • You are able to locate all of the heirs and all of the heirs will sign the Small Estate Affidavit (or someone with legal authority will sign on their behalf).
  • There is no pending application for appointment of a personal representative and no personal representative has been appointed by a court.
  • There is no administration needed.

Allow The Law Firm of Taylor and Lopez, PLLC to be your Bexar County Estate Planning and Bexar County Probate Attorney.

What is a small estate affidavit?

Are you in search of a Bexar County Attorney for Wills and Trusts? The Law Firm of Taylor & Lopez, PLLC can provide you amazing services and protection of assets. Whether you’re in need of estate administration or the composition of a legal document, we have an attorneys that are second to none.

What is a Will?

In a sense, a will is a legal document that simplifies and delegates the various assets within your possession to your extended family or those you have selected.

A will is necessary, as it provides the ability to convey your desires in a legal fashion. We must advise that you take the time to build a will with your attorney, and we can provide you with an exceptional one. This is because there are a lot of small details and fine points which require an expert in the field to interpret. Otherwise, you may jeopardize some of your property and its value, or rather access to it.  Without a Will, it becomes more difficult to discern the value and ownership of your property.

The Contents Of A Will:

  • Designation of an executor, who carries out the provisions of the will.
  • Beneficiaries—those who are inheriting the assets.
  • Instructions for how and when the beneficiaries will receive the assets.
  • Guardians for any minor children.

Each of these sections deserves delicate attention because you will have no control over posthumous events unless a proper will is intact. Make sure to be able to name every beneficiary with exact detail. It’s imperative to ensure that the members who you aim to have parts of your assets are designated. Otherwise, there will be confusion in how to divide the property — even more difficult in the instructions of how to obtain it.

What Is A trust?

To understand a Trust, you have to know that the probate is a very calculated and extremely expensive way of dividing your estate. In essence, it is the most bureaucratic and callous method to do so. Therefore, the role of Trusts is to move your assets into the possession of a third party which will hold it for you under such circumstances. It is usually to avoid or at the very least lower the taxes or cost of the Probate. In some cases, you can bypass it almost entirely.  Through this format, your beneficiaries may gain access to these assets faster than using a will. If it is an irrevocable trust, it may not be considered part of the taxable estate. That means fewer taxes may be due upon your death. It is a great way to protect your wealth and ensure your legacy is preserved.

Do I need a will? Do I need a trust?