Tips on Avoiding Probate in Arlington, Texas

Probate court proceedings can be costly, long, and stressful. Taking the time to take steps to spare your family this hassle will lead to an easier grieving process for them. In Texas, living trust laws allow you to make a living trust for every asset you own. You will need to create a trust document, similar to that of a will, which names someone as your successor trustee after your death. Next, you must transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trustee of your trust. When that is done, your property is controlled by the trust. At your death, the successor trustee can transfer it to trust beneficiaries without the need for court. A wills & probate attorney in Texas can help you successfully achieve this goal.

Avoiding Probate With Ease

If you own property with someone, known as joint ownership, the surviving owner automatically owns the property. No probate is needed for this transfer of property so it isn’t necessary to include it in a trust. In a trust, you can also add a payable-on-death feature to bank accounts, which allows your beneficiary to claim the money from the bank without the need for court too.

As of 2015, the state of Texas allows you to leave real estate with transfer-on-death deeds. These deeds are also called beneficiary deeds, which allows you to revoke the deed or sell the property at any time. The beneficiary that you name in your trust has no rights until your death.

Planning for your death is a great way to help your family to get through this difficult time. By hiring a professional wills & probate attorney in Arlington, you can ensure that they are protected and no court proceedings will be required for your trust. If you or a loved one need help with will preparation or trust preparation from a wills & probate lawyer in Texas, call 817-261-5000 today.

johnlaw_admin Apr 26, 2018 Comments (0)

What is an Affidavit of Heirship in Arlington?

If a person dies without a will in Arlington, Texas and title to his or her property doesn’t include joint tenancy, then issues will arise with distribution of the deceased’s belongings. This property is known as heirship property. Probate proceedings in county court are generally required in order to appoint a personal representative of the estate and for a judgment of heirship to be made. A Texas probate lawyer from Hixson Law Firm can help remedy these issues during your difficult time.

When Do I Need an Affidavit of Heirship?

An Affidavit of Heirship in Texas is even sometimes used if the decedent had a will, as that it is merely stating their intent. This legal document must be signed by a related person to the deceased alongside two witnesses. The affidavit of heirship will spell out who the legal heirs to the property are, what the property is exactly and who gains ownership of said property. A full list of the property owned is included and detailed with what property is designated to who. For land, this affects title deeds. This affidavit also helps transfer ownership to heirs in lieu of a deed transfer.

An affidavit of heirship is filed with the county clerk. It then must be approved by a probate court. If the decedent left a will and it was in the process of probate, it must be presented for approval so that the probate process can finish. If real estate was being transferred in this document, it must be filed with the county recorder’s office in the county where the land is.

If you or a loved one need help with drafting an affidavit of heirship in Arlington from a wills & probate lawyer in Arlington, Texas, call 817-261-5000 today.

johnlaw_admin Apr 19, 2018 Comments (0)

Don’t Hesitate to Hire an Arlington Adoption Attorney Today

The adoption process in and outside of Texas can be complicated. This makes it important to consider hiring an experienced adoption attorney in Arlington, Texas to guide you through this journey. If all aspects of an adoption are not handled legally, it could result in the adoption being deemed invalid. An experienced lawyer can help avoid that pain and suffering.

Understanding How an Adoption Attorney Can Help Your Family

An adoption attorney in Arlington, Texas is responsible for following all stipulations set forth in the state of Texas. Texas adoption laws allow just about any adult to adopt a child (unless the child is 12 years old or older where their consent is required). If the petitioner for adoption is married, their spouse must joint unless one is the parent of the child.

In order to begin the adoption process, the child’s birth parents must give up their parental rights voluntarily by signing a legal document that relinquishes their legal rights with the child. If any conflicts arise between the biological or adoptive parents, an adoption attorney in Texas can step in and enforce the policies set forth in the arrangement. With an adoption lawyer, you can receive assistance with:

  • Avoiding illegal adoption traps
  • Interpreting adoption laws in the states/countries involved
  • Understanding the home study process
  • Working with organizations (if applicable) throughout your adoption

An experienced legal team will have the extensive knowledge of adoption law needed to ensure success for their clients. If you or a loved one require the services of an adoption attorney or have questions regarding the adoption process in Texas, call 817-261-5000 today to speak to a professional lawyer in Arlington, Texas.

johnlaw_admin Apr 12, 2018 Comments (0)

What Does The Administration of Estate In Texas Include?

Texas estate administration is when the decedent’s assets are collected, their debts settled, and their assets distributed to their heirs (if no wills) or beneficiaries (if there’s a will). Regardless whether someone had a will or not, the estate will need to be administrated, no matter their size. A professional Texas lawyer has experience with these cases and can help the process to be as stress-free as possible.

What are the laws associated with the administration of estate in Texas?

If the person had a will, the person who handles the estate is known as an executor, if they didn’t, they are known as the administration. Texas estate administration laws require this process to be completed this way:

  • The executor/administrator must collect all assets
  • The executor/administrator must pay/settle claims against the estate
  • The executor/administrator must pay all taxes with these assets
  • The executor/administrator must distribute the estate to the appropriate parties

Please note that if the decedent died intestate, the executor/administrator must petition the court to determine their heirs.

If the deceased had a will, it needs to be probated by the court, meaning the validity of the will is determined. This should happen within four years from the date of the decedent’s death. A will must follow these requirements:

  • Must be signed by another person at his or her direction
  • The will must be witnessed by two witnesses over the age of 14 that aren’t included in the will.

The way that assets are distributed depends on whether the decedent was married or not. For individuals who died without a will and have less than $50,000 in property, a small estate affidavit may be used in lieu of probate.

If you or a loved one need help with settling an estate in Arlington from a Texas lawyer, call 817-261-5000 today for professional legal help.

johnlaw_admin Apr 05, 2018 Comments (0)

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)

Why You Should Designate a Power of Attorney

Life throws us many unexpected challenges, and sometimes, those challenges leave us unable to make important decisions about our own health and well being. Rather than be put at the mercy of strangers in the court system, or medical professionals, it simply makes good sense to appoint a power of attorney who can manage your various affairs if you become incapacitated for any reason.

You can designate anyone you trust to act as a power of attorney, including a friend, a relative, or an actual attorney. The power of attorney lasts until you pass away or you make changes that cancel the terms of the agreement.

There Are Many Types of Power of Attorney Agreements

You should be aware that there are many different types of power of attorney agreements. Each designates certain legal boundaries that the power of attorney designee can perform on your behalf.

A general power of attorney gives sweeping powers to the person you select. This allows them to handle all of your financial and business affairs, pay bills, settle claims, make business decisions, and retain the services of others to help manage your affairs until you are able to do so, or you pass away. In some instances, a General Power of Attorney will also cover any health care decisions that need to be made on your behalf as well.

A durable power of attorney is an agreement that is already in place that allows agents to act on the principal’s behalf before they become incapacitated, handling predefined tasks. The agreement allows the agent to also keep acting on a person’s behalf after they become unable to handle their own affairs, possibly changing the scope of the powers to meet more broadly defined concerns. For a durable power of attorney in Arlington to go into effect, it’s best to specify that you will want a doctor to certify that you are no longer competent to manage your own affairs.

A health care power of attorney gives your agent the authority only to make decisions regarding medical care on your behalf if you are physically or mentally unable to do so on your own. This is different than an advanced health care directive, but when combined, the two will spell out very specific directions for crucial medical decisions.

Just as a Health Care Power of Attorney is limited in scope, so to is a financial power of attorney. This limits your agent to make financial decisions on your behalf, including paying mortgages and other bills, managing your investments, and protecting any and all of your business interests.

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

johnlaw_admin Feb 28, 2018 Comments (0)

Using Mechanics Law to Collect on Unpaid Debts

There are instances when property owners fail to pay contractors, subcontractors, construction workers, and others in related trades after work has been completed on a property. Rather than stop work on a project, tear down what they have already done, or seek other kinds of remedies, members of the building trades can rely on Mechanics Law in Arlington. Also known as a mechanic’s lien or a materialmen’s lien, this powerful legal device gives workers the ability to file a lien against a property to compel an owner to make good on what they owe the workers.

When a lien is filed, information about the debt becomes public record, but there are many more actions that are activated.

What Happens When a Mechanic’s Lien Is Filed

A mechanic’s lien covers almost all labor, materials, supplies, and equipment involved in making improvements to real property. The lien can be filed before the project begins, and removed after all payments have been made. It also can be filed as a way to get paid for work already done. For people in the building trades, a mechanic’s lien is often the least expensive and most effective option way to get paid.

A lien carries the threat of foreclosure with it. In extreme cases, a creditor can file a lawsuit that can force the sale of the property with proceeds from the sale then being used to satisfy the debt. Most property owners would much rather pay the lien that have their property foreclosed.

Because liens are public documents, they can create a cloud on the title. In turn, this means a property owner could have trouble either refinancing or selling the property until the lien is satisfied. It is not unusual to have several liens filed against the same property, and in those cases, the law determines in which order each lien is paid.

It should also be noted for a builder or contractor that the work only needs to be substantially complete for a lien to be valid.

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

johnlaw_admin Feb 21, 2018 Comments (0)

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