How Should You Prepare For Your Meeting With A Potential Probate Attorney?

The death of someone you love is always a difficult and painful time in your life. Through all of the other processes you have to go through, you also have to deal with the legal processes and procedures. Management of assets, such as properties and estate can always be a difficult task to face, especially under circumstances like this one. Management needs to be handled in a professional and careful manner. So, it is a wise choice to hire a probate attorney …

Questions of probate privacy raised in the Harold Simmons case

After Texan billionaire Harold Simmons recently passed away, his widow filed to seal documents related to the probate of his estate, including his will. Regardless of what the judge considering her request ultimately decides, it’s important to think about the issues this case raises.  Generally, documents going through probate court are available to the public.  But families also have concerns about privacy, and the kinds of financial and personal information available on these documents could lead to undesirable exposure. According …

Can a Death Certificate Be Changed?

A potential client called asking how to change his recently deceased wife’s death certificate.  He had been told by the department of vital statistics that he would need a Court Order to do this.  The man and his wife had been separated for a few months before her untimely death, but were not yet legally divorced.  However, this did not prevent the wife’s sister from reporting her as single on the death certificate.  As crazy as it sounds, this happens …

Tragedy in West, Texas

As many are aware, the City of West, Texas suffered a catastrophic tragedy on the evening of April 17, 2013.  An explosion at a fertilizer plant caused severe damage to the community, including multiple causalities.  Many questions remain how families and the community will rebuild in the aftermath. Family members of individuals who died as a result of the explosion have many issues to confront in the coming months.  Among those is how to handle the decedent’s estate.  Whenever an …

Mediation in Estate Disuputes

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article discussing the use of mediation as a method to resolve estate and trust disputes.  The Journal asked a series of questions to William Zabel, a Estate and Trust Attorney from New York. According to Mr. Zabel, a driving force of estate disputes center around the lack of clarity in the Will regarding who receives the Decedent’s tangible personal property.  This can include anything from clothes, furniture and antiques to jewelry and automobiles.  …

TV’s “The Jeffersons” actor Sherman Hemsley Estate Dispute Settled

The Probate Judge of El Paso County, Texas has ordered a DNA test in the Estate of actor Sherman Hemsley after a before unknown relative stepped forward .  You may remember Mr. Hemsley from his role as George Jefferson in the TV shows “The Jeffersons”. Hemsley’s Will named his manager Flora Enchinton Bernal as his sole beneficiary and Executor of the estate.  However, a dispute arose when a Philadelphia man, claiming to be Hemsley’s half-brother, filed in the Probate Court …

Stopping Frivolous appeals

The story goes like this:  you find yourself mired in a long and expensive probate litigation case.  The other side has no case whatsoever, but they have assured you that even if they lose they will be happy dragging this out as long as it takes.  After years of legal battles, your day in court comes and you win.  Great, right?  Everyone goes home and your troubles are finally behind you. But wait… At the last second, despite the fact …

Billionaire Heir’s Children Sue Over Girlfriend

John Goodman’s legal troubles continue to mount this month.  As we discussed in our last post, Goodman faces criminal and civil trials next month over allegations for his actions in an automobile accident that resulted in the death of a man named Scott Wilson.  With impending liability mounting, Goodman decided to legally adopt his 42-year old girlfriend so that she could benefit from a sizable trust that is established for his children. In the latest chapter in this saga, Goodman’s …

Will Contests in Texas – A Four-Part Series

Next week I am starting a new four-part series regarding Will Contests in Texas. I get numerous calls every week from potential clients who, after explaining their situation to me, ask if they have any grounds to contest a Will. When it quickly became apparent that the same questions were arising regularly, I decided this subject would make a good blog topic. My goal is to explain exactly what a Texas Will contest entails, what grounds are available for such …

This Week in Probate and Guardianship Appeals

Case: Kappus v. Kappus Court: Supreme Court of Texas This case deals with the removal of an independent executor because of an alleged conflict of interest. In a fairly broad sweeping opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that because a conflict of interest is not listed in the probate code among the several grounds as conditions for removal, it is not a valid reason for removal. The Court noted that the grounds to remove an independent executor post-appointment are different than …