May is Elder Abuse Prevention Month

May is Elder Abuse Prevention Month and in light of this the Disability and Elder Law Attorney’s Association welcomed Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos as its keynote speaker this month. Judge Lykos was joined by Kate Dolan, Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Elder Abuse Division. The speech focused on the common causes of Elder Abuse, the most frequent offenders, and the reason that a majority of these crimes go unreported. Not surprisingly the common theme in most …

This Week in Probate Litigation Appeals

Case: In the Estate of Minnie Ola Kremer Court: Ninth Court of Appeals – Beaumont In this Will contest from Beaumont, we get one of the rare cases where undue influence was proven in the trial court, and managed to hold up at the Court of Appeals. Pearl Graef probated the 1989 will of her sister, Minnie Ola Kremer. Nearly two years later, Charles Lester Smith, a friend of Minnie’s, filed a motion to set aside the 1989 Will and …

This Week in Appeals – Ford & Mathiason Wins Again

Case: Courtney Guyton vs. Cynthia Monteau Court: Fourteenth Court of Appeals – Houston The Fourteenth Court of Appeals this week has ruled in F&M’s favor involving the ability of a probate court to appoint a third party administrator over the application of a beneficiary of the estate. F&M appealed the denial of their client’s application to be appointed as the Successor Administrator of her father’s estate. After a hearing on the merits in which only one objection to her appointment …

Probate Court Changes in Houston and Dallas

The ringing in of a new year brings thoughts of all sorts of changes in life. It brings new opportunities, fresh perspectives, and renewed energy. In 2011, the same is true in the Probate Courts of Harris and Dallas Counties. The elections in November resulted in some distinct changes in the judges among the probate courts in these two counties. In Harris County, contested races in all 4 probate courts resulted in the election of two new judges and the …

This Week In Trust Appeals

Case: In the Estate of Helen D. Wallace, Deceased Court: Tenth Court of Appeals, Waco The Tenth Court of Appeals this week has decided a case involving the jurisdiction of the Probate Court to hear a matter involving the interpretation of a will that possibly contains a trust. Theresa Isenberger and Mary Moriset appealed the dismissal of their petition for construction of the will of Helen Wallace, their sister. This will was offered and admitted to probate in the County …

Attorneys Fees in Probate and Guardianship Cases: Is the Chronicle Telling the Whole Story?

As I mentioned in my last post, the Houston Chronicle published a front-page article on Friday, October 22, 2010, regarding the attorneys’ fees approved by the Probate Courts in Harris County and the other large counties around the state. I wanted to provide insight into some of the issues raised in the article. Attorneys fees in probate and guardianship cases can be incurred in 2 different ways – 1) a client can hire an attorney to represent them in a …

This Week In Probate And Guardianship Appeals

Case: Jefferson State Bank vs. Christa C. Lenk, Administratrix of the Estate of Mickey Carl Marcus Court: Texas Supreme Court The Supreme Court last week sent down a decision that has decided when the duty arises for an estate administrator to timely notify a bank of unauthorized transactions that occurred prior to their appointment. In March of 2000, Mickey Marcus died with over $22,000 in his account at Jefferson State Bank. The following month, Melvyn Spillman presented the Bank with …

Temporary Guardianships: Perfect when they fit, Trouble when they don’t

In the past, this blog has identified many of the traditional elements of a guardianship matter, and has outlined many of the alternatives available under certain circumstances. Often, neither the traditional approach or the alternatives are a good fit. The situation might demand that action be taken quickly, particularly if the Proposed Ward and/or her property are at immediate risk. Temporary guardianships and their procedural elements are frequently misunderstood, by clients and courts alike. In many cases, they are sought …

Top Ten Reasons to Re-do Your Will

10. You lost your Will. – While it is not impossible to probate a lost Will in Texas, it is exponentially harder to accomplish than with a valid written will. I won’t go into all the gory details, but unless you can show exactly how it was lost, and exactly what it contained, you are in for a very uphill battle. A copy can get you part of the way, but it will not get you to the finish line. …

‘Easy Rider’ Estate is in for a Bumpy Road

I am not usually one to fall into following tabloid or celebrity news, but a couple of stories from the past few days recently caught my eye and seemed appropriate to at least mention here. No, I won’t plug the paparazzi-style website that piqued my interest, but if you follow traditional news, you know that actor / film maker Dennis Hopper passed away last Saturday, after his battle with prostate cancer. Hopper was married five times over his life. The …