Frequently Asked Question
When Can a Will Be Contested?
Parties may choose to contest a will if:
The decedent lacked testamentary capacity
They believe coercion or undue influence was involved
The will does not meet state law requirements
The individual who signed the will did not understand the purpose of what he or she was doing
It is handwritten and does not meet state law requirements for handwritten wills
Contact Sawyer Law Firm, PLLC if you think you have grounds for contesting a will.
I Have Serious Concerns About the Executor of An Estate. Can an Executor Be Removed?
Problems with executors and trustees are more common than you think because an executor’s responsibilities are considerable. An executor can be removed when:
The executor cannot fulfill his or her duties
The executor’s actions and decisions are not in the estate’s best interests
Fraud has been committed
The estate’s payment obligations are not being met
How Much Does Probate or Estate Litigation Cost?
It varies because lawyers bill in various ways for this type of litigation. Some attorneys work on an hourly basis. Some estate litigation attorneys receive a percentage of what he or she recovers.
Why Do Law Firms Charge a Retainer Fee for Estate Litigation?
The costs related to estate litigation can be significant. Costs include: attorney fees, deposition expenses, payments to court reporters and expert witnesses. Retainers can range from $5,000 to $25,000.
How Much Trial Experience Do the Lawyers at The Sawyer Law Firm, PLLC Have?
Our attorneys collectively have more than 50 years of litigation experience.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of planning for the transfer of an individual’s assets following his or her death. Estate planning is a very personal matter and can vary greatly from person to person. Individuals are best served to work with an attorney who knows how to effectively customize an estate plan according to an individual’s personal circumstances, particular asset holdings and goals.
What Does an Advanced Estate Plan Include?
An “advanced” estate plan not only includes a thoughtful tax planning Last Will and Testament, but also entities created to own and operate certain assets including, but not limited to, Grantor Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, as well as Limited Liability Companies, limited partnerships and certain closely held corporations. Thus, “advanced” estate planning goes well beyond having only a will. Such an advanced plan would be customized to address your specific asset holdings as well as your wealth transfer desires.
What Are the Benefits of A Trust?
One of the main benefits of a trust is that any property held in a trust can be protected from claims of creditors, i.e. a “spendthrift trust” and bypass the process of probate and challenges of property characterization in a divorce contest. Additionally, a trust designated to manage your assets provides for a smooth transfer of property if you become ill and have a trustee named. Our firm can help you set up a revocable living trust, testamentary trust, irrevocable life insurance trust, defective grantor trust, grantor retained annuity trust, and other types of trusts.
What Happens when Someone Dies without A Will?
Dying without a will is known as dying “intestate.” When this happens, the laws of Texas determine how assets are divided and the identity of your heirs at law.
My Child Is Married and I Do Not Trust His/Her Spouse. How Can I Keep My Child’s Inheritance out Of His or Her Spouse’s Grasp in Case They Get a Divorce?
Parents can establish a trust for separate property, and designate their child as the beneficiary. If the in-law is not named as a beneficiary, they will have no rights in the trust estate. Alternatively or in conjunction with a trust, parents can create entities (limited liability companies or limited partnerships) and transfer assets to such entities; interests in such entities given or left to your child cannot be commingled; thus, these interests remain as your child’s separate property. Our firm can further explain your legal options.
What Is a Guardian?
A guardian is a person who is chosen to make decisions for an individual who is not capable of making decisions for him or herself.
What Do Guardians Do?
Guardians are appointed to manage an individual’s financial matters or personal needs. Guardianships often are used for minors, the elderly and incapacitated adults.
What Types of Guardianships Are There in Texas?
Texas statutes allow for two types. A guardian of the person manages the personal interests of another person (health care, for example). A guardian of the estate manages another person’s financial interests.
The same person (if he or she is qualified) can serve as both guardians of the person and guardian of the estate.
Does the Incapacitated Person Get to Choose the Guardian?
It depends. Texas law reads, “Before appointing a guardian, the court shall make a reasonable effort to consider the incapacitated person’s preference of the person to be appointed guardian.”
For Guardianships, What Is the Definition of “minor” in Texas?
A minor is anyone under the age of 18.
For Guardianships, What Is the Definition of “incapacitated” in Texas?
“Incapacitated” generally means (1) a minor or (2) an adult who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to (a) provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself; (b) care for the person’s own physical health; or (c) manage the person’s own financial affairs.
The courts determine whether an individual is legally incapacitated. The reasons for incapacity can include illness, injury and substance abuse.
Who Is Likely to Be Appointed Guardian?
The court will look to the family first to determine if there is anyone qualified to serve as guardian. A family member is often the best choice to serve because that person will be familiar with the history of care for the family member.
Choosing a non-family member can be an option for a guardian, especially when it is necessary to manage the financial affairs of the proposed incapacitated person. Some families choose an attorney or other professional to serve in this role.
I Cannot Afford a Guardian. What Are My Options?
In Tarrant County, Texas, there is a volunteer guardian organization that in some cases will serve as guardian of the person. Also, in some cases the county pays the legal fees.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for This?
At Sawyer Law Firm, PLLC, our attorneys can explain your options, set up a guardianship and also represent you if you are appointed as guardian of the estate.
Our lawyers have decades of experience with guardianships will ensure the guardianship complies with the law. We know how the process works, including court requirements, deadlines and other issues.