Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

What happens if someone dies without a Will?

When someone dies without a will the courts look to the probate code which are statutes addressing the estate of those who have passed both with and without a will.  The state statutes define who will be considered as an executor absent a will.  The statutes define who will inherit and include a complex formula for addressing both community and separate property and the complex family structures that may exist.  The statutes also address who will become guardians to minor children of the deceased. The court will monitor every step of this process which makes dying without a will an expensive proposition for the loved ones you leave behind.

What is community property?

Community property is property acquired during marriage. Community property is treated differently than separate property both during life and after death.  Separate property is any property acquired before marriage or during marriage as a gift or by inheritance.

What happens if you have a Will but it is lost or destroyed?

Procedures exist to admit a copy of a will for probate if you can prove it was not destroyed with the intent to revoke the will.  If there are no copies you must have testimony concerning the details of the will and how it came to be destroyed.  This testimony must remove all doubt that the will was destroyed with the intent to revoke the will.

Where should you keep your Will?

You should keep your will and other estate planning documents in a safe place and provide the location to the person named as executor.  If you have a firesafe in your home this is a good place to keep it.  You will need to provide a method of access to your executor.  If you prefer to keep your will in a safe deposit box, you need to list a family member or your executor as a person authorized to gain access.

All questions are answered based on general Texas law and should not be considered as legal advice in Texas or elsewhere.  If you have a legal dilemma you should seek the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction who can advise you based on the facts of your specific situation.

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Law Offices of Debbie J. Cunningham

Debbie Cunningham is an Irving attorney providing affordable estate planning to the Dallas/ Fort-Worth areas. She understands the steps you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Debbie is family-focused and wants to ensure her clients are fully informed on the options that are available for their families. Debbie’s own blended family has given her valuable insights into the complexities of family dynamics.

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