Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Are my Duties as an Executor?

So, you have gone through the Texas probate process and you are now a new Executor of the Estate. How much is going to be on your plate? What comes next?

Here is what you need to know:

  1. The process doesn't end when you are appointed. In fact, your work is just beginning. 
  2. You are a fiduciary. Under the law, you must act in the best interest of the estate and meet certain obligations in dealing ethically with others. 
  3. It is your job to gather the assets of the estate. You must also gather debts, decide if the debts are legitimate and eventually pay the legitimate debts. 
  4. You will need to see that medical bills and funeral expenses are gathered and that they are properly paid. 
  5. Get ready to open an estate account at the bank. For that you will need an EIN number. 
  6. You will need to see that any necessary tax returns are prepared and discover any tax liability. 
  7. You will be responsible for distributing the bequests to the beneficiaries. 
  8. You will be responsible for notifying some existing creditors and potential claimants about your appointment. You will need to do so in a certain way, that complies with the law. 
  9. You may need to formally notify beneficiaries in the will about the probate case, and give other copies of documents to them.
  10. You will have to prepare an inventory of the estate. 
  11. You will have to file certain documents and affidavits with the probate court, by deadlines that are set by Texas law, and by the court. 
  12. You may have other duties under the will (such as being responsible for cremated remains, or arranging a memorial service). 
  13. You may decide that you need further help from a lawyer. 
  14. Many counties have guides for executors available at the courthouse, in the courtroom, or online that discuss the above in more detail.  Your lawyer, if you have one, will be able to give you specific guidance and instruction. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Success Is In the Follow Up!

It's great to make plans and it's great to start projects, but what good do they do if you never finish them?  

It isn't uncommon for us to regularly hear comments like these around the law office; 

  • I came to see you about this legal problem 2 years ago and never did anything about it and now I am getting sued;
  • I meant to send this creditor evidence that I had already paid this but I forgot and now I am getting sued and have to answer the suit by Monday;
  • My dad was going to have a will drawn up but he kept putting it off and he died last week;
  • I opened a file with your office last year but never sent you the paperwork you asked for so that you could proceed; 
  • I have been without child support for my child for 3 years and kept good records but never did anything about it. 
A legal consult can help answer your questions and move you along the path to resolution. Once you've had one, write down your next step and give yourself a deadline to get it done.  Success is in the follow up! 

Civil Attorneys, Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Sunday, October 2, 2016

How Do I Get my Ex-Spouse's Name off of the Mortgage?

We get this question a lot: "Now that I am divorced how do I get my ex-spouse's name off of the mortgage?

The answer is: You may not be able to.

Here's why.

The mortgage agreement was made between the mortgage company on one side, and you and your spouse on the other side.   Once the mortgage was signed and processed, the mortgage company had two people held responsible for paying that mortgage, and may not want to let go of one potential source of payment.  If you were the mortgage company, wouldn't you want two people responsible for paying you rather than just one?  The mortgage company certainly has the ability to grant your request, but it is unlikely.

Depending on your mortgage company, your financial situation, and current rates, you may decide to refinance your mortgage so that you are now the only one responsible for it.  But that does take an approval process.  If it works, that can be a great way to cut ties and move on, and it also can result in more favorable mortgage terms for you!

But, as far as being able to just call the mortgage company and say, "Hey, Mortgage Company! Great news, I'm divorced! You can take my spouse's name off the mortgage now!", you will probably end up disappointed.

If you are the spouse who was not awarded the house, you would probably be thrilled to have your name off the mortgage.  You may even be worried that your ex-spouse won't make timely payments, or wish that you could get your ex to try to refinance.  Therefore, it is a good idea for both spouses to discuss their concerns about the mortgage with their own attorneys and set goals about what each would like to happen. This can be discussed in mediation as well.

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Can I Travel With My Children While Getting a Divorce?

If you are getting a divorce in Texas and you have children, you may want to take a trip with your children during the time the divorce is pending.

Are you allowed to do it?

Well, the first question to ask yourself is whether you are under any court orders.  If so, then check them to see if you have any travel restrictions.   Be aware that just because you haven't actually been to court doesn't mean that you aren't under any court orders.  You may have an agreement that has been reached between you and your spouse and that agreement may have been filed with the court and become a Court Order. This can happen with mediation or without it.

(Also, speaking of "Court Orders", in Texas "Standing Orders" apply to any divorce filed, so be aware of these.)

If you have orders  in place, read them and follow them. If you have made an agreement with your spouse, follow that.  But let's say that there is nothing decided yet about travel, what then?

The next thing to consider is whether your travel with your child would be interfering with your spouse's visitation time. If so, you'll need to work out that issue through your attorneys, or, if you don't have attorneys, with your spouse.

Even if you don't have to, in many cases it is advisable to discuss the travel in advance with your spouse (even if you have to do it through your attorneys) in order to avoid misunderstanding or panic. Of course, each case is different, so just be sure to think everything through and discuss any doubts with your attorney.

If all is clear and you see no reason why you shouldn't go, just make sure that you come back, and come back on time.

Be aware that international travel is a bit different. For information on international travel see the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.  There are U.S. and international laws in effect that must be followed.  If you wish to travel internationally during your divorce, make sure that you are abiding by all requirements and you are advised to discuss this with your attorney in advance as well.

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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