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Houston Texas Estate Planning Blog

What you should know about out-of-state property and your will

If you own a vacation home, condominium or piece of land outside of Texas, you may need more than just a will to ensure your assets pass on as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Because real estate is always subject to the laws of the state in which it’s found, your family members could have to attend probate court proceedings in each state where you owned property. These out-of-state proceedings are known as “ancillary probate.” They vary in complexity and can be costly, but they can also be avoided.

Unsettled family conflict can derail an estate plan

While conflict is a natural part of many family units in Texas, there are certain situations when unsolved disagreements can wreak havoc on relationships that could end up causing long-term damage. Estate planning for one is a topic that can be met with angst and hesitation by some family members and is also one that can create ongoing conflict even after the death of the person who created the plan. 

Reducing familial conflict is critical to a person's ability to guarantee that the estate plan he or she has curated will be executed according to the vision that was had while it was being written. According to, three of the largest culprits of family contention, after a person passes away, are the following:

  • Unmet expectations that were unrealistic and misunderstood in the first place. 
  • The drama between certain family members or parties that have created strong opinions about who should receive what.
  • Poor communication that ultimately leaves family members with conflicting information that causes confusion and frustration. 

Tough decisions involving beneficiaries

We completely understand how challenging estate planning can be for some people, especially those who have uncertainty. Not only are some people unsure of which type of estate plan will suit their needs best, but some may be unsure of how to move forward with a will or a trust. For example, someone could be unsure of whether someone should be named as a beneficiary, or how to divide their assets among beneficiaries. There are many different angles to consider and people in Houston and across Texas will likely benefit from reviewing all of their options in detail.

If you are struggling with decisions involving beneficiaries, there are a number of ways to approach this predicament. For example, it could be a good idea to talk with your loved ones about your estate and try to develop a better idea of how your assets should be split up. If you have a considerable amount of cryptocurrency investments, perhaps a family member who is very familiar with cryptocurrency investing would be a suitable candidate to receive these assets. You may also need to think about how your loved ones will feel about the decisions you make, although it is ultimately up to you to decide what to do with your estate.

Preparing yourself to contest your loved one's will

Your loved one has recently passed away and other family members are beginning the process of executing the deceased's estate plan in Texas. Learning that you were not named in his or her will despite the connection you had to the deceased, as well as the relationship you maintained throughout the years, can be incredibly challenging and saddening. At Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law, we have helped many people prepare for probate. 

If you are dissatisfied with the fact that you have not been named in the will and would like to contest the terms and conditions outlined in the will, you can certainly do so. Forbes describes several critical tips to give yourself the best chance at having a successful outcome as you continue through probate. One of the challenges you may face is the necessity to make decisions in a timely manner. Procrastinating or taking too long to reach an agreement on certain factors will only prolong the process and may compromise your ability to have a say in what happens. 

Where does the debt go when someone passes away?

It is a simple fact that most people in America have debt. With any luck they will be able to drive the amount down over the years, but sometimes that is not the case. It is a reality that when a person passes away their debt must go somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere is their loved ones.

When someone passes away all their debts and assets become their "estate". Probate is then the process in which a person acting on the deceased's behalf - their executor - settles all their debts. This is what happens when the estate's assets cannot cover a few key debts.

Sibling relationships and probate disputes

The probate process can present various challenges, but the impact of a dispute can be especially difficult for families. Unfortunately, these disagreements often lead to hostility among family members, and in certain circumstances, they can amplify existing challenges within a family. For example, a longstanding sibling rivalry may be magnified when a probate dispute surfaces. Even when siblings have maintained healthy relationships for decades, these relationships can be strained or even shattered when a dispute over a loved one's estate comes into the picture.

Sibling rivalries may occur when brothers and sisters are unhappy with how an estate has been divided between them. Or, one sibling may be given authority over an estate, and their other siblings may be unhappy with how they have managed these affairs. If you have been given these responsibilities, you may find that your brother or sister is upset and even jealous. In some instances, people may falsely accuse a sibling of mishandling an estate, while others may have a misunderstanding over any number of estate-related matters.

Know the details about power of attorney

When Texas residents consider estate administration, they may think this job will begin once their loved one passes away. However, sometimes this job begins during someone's lifetime when a person serves as the power of attorney.

A power of attorney has a wide range of responsibilities. According to the National Caregivers Library, a power of attorney might make choices about the kind of healthcare a person receives, as well as day-to-day financial decisions. This person may also decide when an elderly person needs a guardian. Someone usually serves in this position once an individual is no longer able to make these kinds of decisions unaided. This means that someone may be the power of attorney for an elderly parent. 

What can you do to prepare for a loved one's death?

When you are informed of the declining health of one of your family members in Texas, whether from a progressing condition or an unexpected accident, preparing for his or her death can be incredibly challenging. While coping with someone's death is never an easy feat, there are things that you can do to hopefully ease the emotional turmoil you experience.

One of the best things you can do is to work together with other close family members to try and help organize your loved one's finances and affairs to make the process of his or her passing smoother and less stressful. This decision may help to prevent undue anxiety from distracting you from being able to heal and focus on your emotional recovery. 

Despite the heaviness of the topic, estate planning is important

When people in Texas have a good job, are surrounded by people they care about and are not immediately lacking anything they desire to have, the last thought to cross their mind may be estate planning. However, studies have demonstrated proof that people who plan their estate early on, seek the input of their loved ones and guarantee that their final wishes are legally preserved, often have a much more successful outcome following their death in terms of being able to control where their assets are distributed. 

In a culture that forces the privacy of a person's finances, it may seem both unconventional and brash for a person to bring up the topic, especially if they are encouraging someone else to plan their estate. Many adult children are hesitant to open a discussion with their aging parents about what their plans are for their assets because they are fearful that their concerns will be misconstrued and come across wrong. 

Coordinating an estate plan to prevent inheritance disputes

When people begin the process of planning their estate in Texas, they may be facing uncertainty and hesitation when it comes time to designating beneficiaries and heirs. They may have anxiety about choosing the right people and hoping that they do not offend anyone in making decisions regarding how they would like their assets to be split. This concern is valid considering how often surviving family members quibble over what should be done with a deceased person's remaining assets. 

According to Forbes, many parents consider equally splitting their assets between all of their children. However, in some cases, this decision may not be the most appropriate. For example, if one of their children is disabled or requires significant medical treatment, they may consider allotting a fair amount to each of their children, but this amount may not necessarily be equal regarding worth. 

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Doehring & Doehring Attorneys at Law
2000 S. Dairy Ashford Street, Suite 298
Houston, TX 77077

Phone: 866-456-2361
Fax: 281-497-8630
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