Disclaimer: The opinions given here are based on general fact situations and therefore cannot apply to every circumstance. An attorney should be consulted to review your specific situation.
Commonly Asked Questions about Wills and Probate
1. Do I really need a lawyer to draft a will?
No, but you should think twice before doing it on your own. Form wills are readily available from office supply stores or online, but these wills are generally not specific to any state which can affect the validityof the will. Additionally, Texas law dictates that certain formalities be observed in the execution of the will. Failure to follow these formalities can render the will invalid. For instance, the witnesses must be in the presence of the person signing the will at the time the will is signed. If the will is challenged and it is later learned that one or both witnesses were not present at the time the will was signed, the court will find the will to be invalid.
While there is a cost for an attorney drafting a will, the consequences of not having a valid will can end up costing much more and could cause your assets to be left according to the Texas Estates Code.
2. What happens if my spouse dies without a will?
In the state of Texas in most instances, the community property of a married couple will pass to his or her surviving spouse. In instances where either spouse has a child from a previous marriage, that rule does not apply. In this case, the decedent's interest in the community property passes to his or her children.
3. I'm not married. What happens to my estate if I die without a will?
Texas law dictates how an estate passes in the event of intestacy (death without a will). Call me for specific details.
4. Am I responsible for any debts of my parents after their death?
While you personally are not liable for those debts, the estate remains responsible for debts incurred by the deceased. Such debts must be satisfied before beneficiaries are entitled to any portion of the estate.
5. Does a will always have to be probated?
No. Under Texas law, there must be a need for the administration of the estate to justify a will probate. For example, if real estate, stocks, bonds, etc., are in the name of the decedent, in all liklihood the will would have to be probated. In many instances, however, less expensive alternatives are available.
6. Can I probate a will in Texas that was prepared in another
Probably. The Texas Estates Code specifies what a will must contain and the formalities under which the will is executed. As long as the out-of-state will meets the requirements of the state of Texas (and most do) there will be no problem probating the will in a Texas court in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of death.
17207 Kuykendahl, Suite 104
Spring, Texas 77379
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Personal Philosophy of Law:
Assertively address the client’s needs with a willingness to negotiate effective resolutions in an honest and professional manner.
Travis Cole Crowder is a fourth generation Texan and a third generation Houstonian! He graduated from Spring Branch High School and from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors degree in Biology. He earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 1987. His practice began downtown followed by 10 years in the Greenway Plaza area. He has practiced law in the 1960/North Harris County area since 1999. Travis and his wife, Carol, have been married since 1984.