Monday, January 23, 2012

Can a Copy of a Will be Probated in Texas?

Once a Texas will has been properly drafted and executed, the original should be kept in a safe place.  This should be a place that is dry and safe, such as a fireproof box.  The will may also be kept in a safe deposit box, however, this is not always the best option because it will be less accessible. A safe deposit box should only be used if someone other than the testator (person who signed the will) has access to the box. Ideally, the other person with access will not be someone who often travels with the Testator because there would still be a problem if something should happen to the two of them together.  Therefore, I always advise married couples who want to place their original wills in a safe deposit box to be certain that a third person has access to the box.

If a will is lost and cannot be found, it is possible to submit a copy to the probate court where a probate case is filed.  The Texas Probate Code specifically allows for this, however, there is no guarantee that the document will be accepted by the probate judge as valid and current (unrevoked), especially if there is other evidence to the contrary.

Therefore, it is always best to be very careful to keep the original will safe at all times, and if it cannot be located when needed to make a complete and diligent search for the will. Keep it safe and dry, with other important documents and be sure that you know where it is at all times.

Kalish Law Office The Woodlands, Texas 281-363-3700 "Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference".  Since 1984  Check out our probate page on our website for additional information


Monday, January 16, 2012

DNA Testing for Family Law and Immigration Cases has Strict Standards

DNA testing is sometimes used in paternity, adoption and immigration cases. 

Here are some reasons that DNA testing may be used and who may request the test:

1.  In a traditional paternity case:  As evidence of the identity of the biological father

a. requested by the biological mother in order to enforce the duty of care and child support; or

b. requested by the biological father who wants to enforce his rights to the child and be allowed to be part of the child's life; or

c. by an alleged father who knows or suspects that he is not the true biological father and does not want to have rights to the child or a duty to support him/her; or

d. ordered by a court as evidence in the case.

2. In an adoption:

a.  to prove that a child is truly the offspring of one or both biological parents when the biological parent(s) are consenting to an adopiton (especially in international adoption cases).

b.  to prove that someone is NOT a parent of the child about to be adopted and therefore does not have to agree to the adoption

c.  to comply with international, federal immigration, or state law in an international adoption as part of the evidence in the file and part of procedural requirements

3. In immigration law:

a. to prove that a person is truly the offspring of an alleged parent who is petitioning for them with the immigration service

b. to prove identity of a person by objective, scientific evidence

In both international adoption and immigration cases there are very strict guidelines about which labs may process the tests and how and when the tests should be done.   In other family law cases it may be possible to use tests as evidence which were obtained prior to the case being filed (but this is not always true).   In order to prevent delays in your case it is always best to seek legal advice and be certain that you are using a lab which is reputable and approved by the governmental agency or court that is involved in your case and that all proper procedures are followed.  

Kalish Law Office 281-363-3700 Family and business law since 1984. The Woodlands, Texas.