Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roaming the Blogs - There's Great Info Out There, Giving Answers to Questions We're Frequently Asked

Just like lots of places, our court has Frequently Asked Questions ... and there are some great Texas bloggers (or "blawgers") that have posted excellent answers to some of the queries that our court personnel hear quite a bit:

1. What happens if I die without a will in Texas?

A great answer is provided by the Texas Probate and Guardianship Blog, which is written by Ford & Mathiason, LLP (offices in both Houston and Dallas).

2. What are Guardianships and how do I get one (for my mom, dad, child, etc.)?

The Center for Children, Law & Policy of the University of Houston Law Center maintains a blog entitled, Children and the Law which gives an overview of the guardianship process (jurisdiction, venue, etc.) as well as links to the pertinent sections of the Texas Probate Code.

3. Can anyone be a Guardian in Texas?

The fast answer is NO. For an example of a controversy surrounding a guardian for elders and the Texas requirement that guardians in Texas be certified, check out the post written for the blog of the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, entitled "Closer to Freedom."

4. Your loved one has died, and you've found the Will. Now what?

Lots of Texas law -- and federal law, as well -- applies to the transitioning of property upon the death of the property owner. Finding a will is good news because it avoids the intestacy statutes (where the state decides who gets what), but just holding that will in your hands isn't enough.

For what to do when you've found the will, check out "What's the First Thing an Executor under the Will Must Do?" written by Austin's Cary & Lippencott, PLLC, in their Texas Probate and Estate Planning Law Blog.

5. What are wills, living wills, directives to physicians, special needs trusts, estate tax, or estate plans, do I need to worry about it, and can the court help me do it myself?

Last answer first: no, our court doesn't provide legal representation. As to what these various aspects of estate planning are - and why you may need them -- read post entitled "Estate Planning Basics, " in the Wills, Trusts & Estates Blog overseen by Texas Tech law professor Gerry Beyer.