Odds and Ends

Who Can Make Funeral Arrangements in Texas When There Isn’t a Will?

A man died without a Will. He died unmarried, with two children, one 19 and the other 17. However, he and his children had been estranged for least ten years. His siblings and parents contacted me to ask who had the legal right to make funeral arrangements for him. Is there a law that outlines … Read More

Beware of Social Security Scams

My husband and I disconnected our home phone number recently. We both have cell phones, and it seemed like the only calls we received were sales calls and scams. Receiving a call from someone posing as a representative of a government agency threatening legal action is scary. I remember receiving a frantic phone call from … Read More

What is a Laughing Heir?

I heard about “laughing heirs” for the first time during my Wills, Trusts, and Estates class in law school. A laughing heir is an heir of an estate so remotely related to a decedent that he or she feels no grief over the decedent’s death. The idea that someone very distantly related to a deceased … Read More

Happy Holidays!

One of my favorite poems is one Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about success. Although many in our world define success by how much money one earns, the size of one’s house, or the make of one’s car,  Emerson defines success in the following way: To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the … Read More

Did the Texas Legislature Create a Back Door for the Creation of a Self-Settled Asset Protection Trust?

Trusts with spendthrift provisions protect assets from claims of creditors. The inclusion of a spendthrift provision in a trust provides the beneficiary with asset protection because it prevents the beneficiary or any other creditor from forcing a trustee to turn over trust assets to satisfy a judgment or a claim. Some states and foreign countries … Read More

Will a Joint Account Pass to the Surviving Owner Outside of Probate?

The way multiple party account pass after the death of a joint account holder is determined by statute. Multiple party accounts that are held with rights of surivivorship pass to the surviving without the need for probate; however, simply checking a box indicating “Right of Survivorship” may not be sufficient to create that relationship, according … Read More