The Importance of Having a Will

A will is a “bread and butter” document that states how someone’s property will be divided after their death. It is the core document that is pretty much universal to any estate planning process.

However, surveys show that only as few as one-third of Americans have a properly executed will in place. There are a few assumptions driving this, most of which are false.

People assume that creating a will is a long an onerous process. But the fact is that unless you have a very large and complicated estate, preparing a will in Arlington is relatively simple and can be accomplished in as little as one to two weeks in many cases.

Another assumption is that people think working with an attorney to create a will is expensive. The truth is, what is expensive is not having a will in place. Without a will, the courts will decide how your assets may be divided, and your loved ones could rack up legal bills as well as not attain assets that they would otherwise be entitled to.

The Benefits of Wills

Executing a will provides you and your surviving heirs with a number of benefits.

First and foremost, you get to decide who will get the property and other assets in your estate. Without a will, your estate is subject to “intestacy” which means those decisions will be made without your input and the bulk of your estate could go to others you do not want.

With a will, you get to choose who will be the executor of your estate. This person should be somebody you trust to make sure all of your instructions are carried out. Without a will, the courts will choose an executor for you, and it may not be someone you want to have control of your assets.

You can amend or revoke a will. If your circumstances change, you can amend your will through a codicil to better reflect your most current wishes. If a will no longer represents any of your wishes, you can also revoke it entirely and start over.

Although there are several do-it-yourself forms and websites that allow you to create a will, it is still smart to invest a relatively small amount of money by hiring a lawyer to protect your family as much as possible. Just like other family financial issues, a will is an investment in your future, and making that small investment now will pay handsome dividends in the future.

The Hixson Law Firm serves clients in Mansfield, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other nearby Texas communities.

johnlaw_admin Mar 28, 2018 Comments (0)

Dealing with Title Disputes in Mansfield, Texas

Although record keeping has improved significantly with the advent of technology, there are still many instances that a real estate transaction can be delayed or derailed due to a title dispute. Especially in the older parts of Mansfield where title and boundary lines were recorded a long time ago, title disputes take place on a regular basis.

Although title insurance can protect the title to a property and reduce an owner’s risk, an owner can still be at risk for a variety of ownership rights. These can include:

  • Boundaries and easements
  • Liens
  • Adverse possession
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Title reformation actions
  • Mechanic’s liens
  • Quiet title
  • Zoning disputes

Mistakes also can happen, such as when clerical or filing errors take place. These can definitely affect your deed or survey as well. Another less common problem, but one that still occurs, is forgery or false impersonation of a previous owner which can create chaos when it is discovered.

Also, when a person dies and ownership falls to their heirs, sometimes one or more of those heirs may not be able to be located. When this happens, the title may fall into dispute as the remaining family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These types of disputes can happen long after another person has purchased the property and could affect the current owner’s rights to the property.

The Best Way to Resolve Title Disputes

Because real estate law is complex, you will need to retain an experienced real estate law attorney to represent you. The best way to resolve a title dispute is to attempt to negotiate a solution to avoid a costly court battle that will also take a lot longer to settle. However, if your attorney can reach an amicable settlement, you and they should be prepared to go to court to litigate through your issue.

The Hixson Law Firm serves clients in Mansfield, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other nearby Texas communities.

johnlaw_admin Mar 21, 2018 Comments (0)

An Experienced Attorney Can Help You with Many Facets of Real Estate Law

By the very nature and size of a typical transaction, buying and selling real estate can be a complicated process. It has become even more so in recent years, as additional steps and processes have been added to protect consumers.

Although the vast majority of real estate deals move forward in a logical way and are completed with few surprises, there is always the possibility that a dispute will arise. Rather than take the chance that a deal could end up costing you dearly, it makes sense in so many ways to hire an experienced real estate attorney to help you with any number of issues related to real estate law.

Protecting Yourself in All Aspects of a Transaction

There are many “hot spots” in a real estate transaction that can trigger the need for legal representation. Some of those include:

Title disputes. Although record keeping has improved significantly in recent years, at times the ownership of a piece of property can come into question. Until a clear title has been established, it is impossible to complete a transaction.

Broker and agent disputes. When a realtor or broker fails to live up to the high standards of ethical conduct expected of them, a client may suffer a loss as a result. This may involve breaching their fiduciary duty, creating an undue pressure to buy, or failing to reveal errors and omissions.

Foreclosures. Attorneys are often called upon to handle the details of foreclosure on a property. Acting as an intermediary can have many benefits for a bank or a lender, as well as protecting the rights of a property owner from unscrupulous banking processes.

Land use disputes. When developers or homeowners fail to follow zoning or other use restrictions, litigation may ensue. An attorney seasoned in real estate law in Mansfield can also assist homeowners with HOA issues, conflicts between neighbors, easements, or boundary and nuisance problems.

The Hixson Law Firm serves clients in Mansfield, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other nearby Texas communities.

johnlaw_admin Mar 14, 2018 Comments (0)

The Basics of the Probate Process

When someone passes away, family members can be overcome with grief, especially if the death is sudden or unexpected. It can be difficult to function, made even more so because there are so many things that must be handled after a loved one dies.

If a person has taken the right steps to provide for their family, then they will have some sort of estate plan in place. At the very least, this will include a will or a living trust, as well as a durable plan of attorney and a medical power of attorney document.

Without a living trust in place, which allows for the easy transfer of assets from a decedent to his or her heirs, an estate will need to go through the probate process. This is a legal process that ensures a person’s assets are disbursed properly to creditors and heirs in accordance with the person’s wishes.

The Steps Involved in Probate

After an executor for the estate has been identified, they will begin the process of going through probate in Arlington. An executor is often a family member or trusted friend, or it can be an attorney, all of whom have a solemn duty to do the probate work in a timely and impartial manner.

Specifically, there are many steps that an executor will need to take during probate:

  • Identify and secure the assets of the estate
  • Work with life insurance companies to make sure that policies are paid
  • Pay all bills and debts of the estate
  • Prep and file tax documents required by the probate court
  • Resolve any other tax issues
  • Determine if estate or inheritance taxes are due
  • Determine which heirs will receive which of the estate’s assets
  • Transfer those assets to the appropriate beneficiaries
  • Fairly and equitably disburse remaining assets in accordance with the decedent’s wishes

All of these issues are made much easier when a will exists. However, in those cases where there is no will, beneficiaries may dispute how the disbursement of assets are being handled. When this happens, one or more of the beneficiaries may seek settlement through litigation. While this is unfortunate, it actually can be quite common. Under these circumstances, the best bet may be to hire an estate attorney and attempt to mediate the issues, instead of relying on litigation and letting a court decide instead.

The Hixson Law Firm serves clients in Mansfield, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other nearby Texas communities.

johnlaw_admin Mar 07, 2018 Comments (0)

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