Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about estate planning or the probate process? Do you need to know more about family law in Dallas? Are you wondering if you have a personal injury case? Are unsure if you need a lawyer?
The Ashmore Law Firm, PC provides the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about estate planning, probate law, family law and personal injury law. Please select a category from the box below to narrow your FAQ search.
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I’ve been named executor under a Will, what kind of attorney do I need?
If you have been appointed as an independent executor, administrator or personal representative under a Will, you will need a probate attorney. It’s important to do the research to find the right probate attorney for your situation.
Some probate attorneys only handle uncontested matters. This means that they handle cases that have no anticipated problems with the beneficiaries named in the Will.
If you foresee a problem with the beneficiaries or if someone has been left out of the Will, you could have a contested matter. In this case, you would need an attorney that handles probate and fiduciary litigation.
We recommend that before you carry out any duties as an independent executor, administrator or personal representative, you should contact a qualified probate attorney.
How long must I live in Texas to get a divorce here?
Before filing for divorce, one of the spouses must live in Texas for at least six (6) months and in the county where the divorce is filed for at least ninety (90) days.
Learn more about the divorce process in Texas.
Does Texas have an age requirement for marriage?
Yes. Both parties must be at least 18 years old to obtain a marriage license in Texas. If either party is under 18 years of age, parent consent or a court order is required.
What is a Designation of Guardian?
A designation of guardian allows you to name the individuals who will be your guardian of your person and estate in the event of your incapacity or disability.
More importantly, this document allows you to name the individual you DO NOT want serving in that capacity.
What is a Property Agreement Between Spouses?
A property agreement between spouses is a document that you sign within 30 days after marriage. This document ratifies or confirms your premarital agreement, but it’s also important to know that if you do not sign the property agreement within 30 days after marriage, it does not nullify or void your previously signed premarital agreement.
What is a Waiver of Disclosure?
A waiver of disclosure is a document that you sign prior to the signing your premarital agreement. It states that you have disclosed all your assets and liabilities to your partner to the best of your knowledge. This is used to make sure no one is hiding anything from each other!
What is a Partition Exchange Agreement?
A partition exchange agreement allows married spouses to divide their community estate into two separate estates. This is similar to a prenuptial agreement, but the spouses are already married.
There is another postmarital agreement called a conversion agreement, that does the opposite of a partition exchange agreement.
What is a Designation of Guardian for Minor Children?
This document allows you to appoint the individuals who you want to be the guardian of your children in the event of your incapacity or disability.
This document only applies to minor children. In Texas, a child is considered a minor if they are younger than 18 years old.
Designation of guardian for minor children is one of the most important documents in your Will package. If you do not appoint a guardian, it is the court that decides who will take care your children.
Check with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that you have this document in place! Don't let the courts choose who takes care of your children.
What is a Directive to Physicians (Living Will)?
A directive to physicians is also known as a “Living Will.” This is a statement of your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical intervention. This is used in the event you are unable to communicate and have become terminally ill, or suffering from an irreversible condition.
Having a directive to physicians is the only way to have a say as to whether you want life support.
Want more information on what else is included in an Estate Plan? Read our article, Estate Planning 101.
What are the Duties of a Trustee?
Trustees have certain duties and responsibilities under the terms of the trust. A trustee is responsible for, but not limited to the following:
- Identify and protect the assets in the trust
- Find out what the trust requires you to do – For example, when the distributions of assets are to be made, when to end the trust, etc.
- Keep up-to-date records, file tax returns and report to the beneficiaries as the trust requires.
An estate planning attorney can give you additional information on the duties of a Trustee. Remember, different trusts may have different guidelines and requirements. Protect yourself and your family by contacting a qualified attorney.
What is a Trustee?
If a trust is created under the terms of your Will, you need to appoint a trustee to manage the trust assets. The trustee has certain duties and responsibilities under the terms of the trust and are required to follow those terms in order to protect the assets in the trust.
Find out the duties of a trustee.
What Happens to Your Facebook Account After You Die?
After you die, Facebook allows your immediate family, upon verification, to memorializing your account, delete your account or remove it. Recently, there has been a new option added to Facebook called a “legacy contact”.
In February of this year, Facebook announced a policy that allows you to designate a “legacy contact,” who’ll be allowed to post on your timeline after your death. Your legacy contact must to be one of your friends on Facebook. You can find the legacy contact in the security section of your Facebook. You are only able to select one of your Facebook friends. The contact you choose will be notified when your death has been reported to Facebook, and your account is memorialized.
What's the difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is used for when you are in a car accident and the other driver is at fault and they do not have insurance. The uninsured motorist coverage can help cover any injuries to you or damage to your vehicle.
Underinsured motorist coverage can help when you are in a situation when you are hit by another driver and they are at fault and you are injured so badly that their insurance coverage is not enough to cover your medical expenses. In that situation, your underinsured motorist coverage would kick in.
It's important to take the time to understand your auto insurance policy. For a better understanding of auto insurance in texas, read our free book, Buying Car Insurance.
If my husband and I are getting a pre-marital agreement or a post-marital agreement, do we both need attorneys?
Did the Estate Tax Change in 2015?
Yes, as of January 1, 2015 the estate and gift tax exemption has changed. The estate and gift tax exemption and the GST tax exemption has changed from $5.34 million to $5.43 million. Now more than ever it is important to be responsible and educated with any changes or updates made to taxes, regardless of what your assets look like. We recommend that you contact your attorney to ensure that your estate planning documents achieve your tax planning goals.
Use our 2015 Estate, Gift & Generation-Skipping Tax Chart to help you navigate through your estate tax planning for the new year.
Do I Need Life Insurance?
Life Insurance is not for everyone. There are two specific situations where you need to seriously consider life insurance.
The first situation is if you are in an estate tax bracket. Meaning, you have an estate that is above 5.43 million dollars. As an estate planning attorney, we utilize life insurance by putting it into a trust to pay the estate tax. This type of trust is called an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT).
The second situation is if you are a young couple and have small children or if you are about to have a child. It’s important to consider that if one spouse passes away, you may have to deal with the loss of income of that spouse or if there is a stay at home mom, you may have to deal with the loss of the primary caregiver for the child. In these kinds of situations we recommend looking at term life insurance and making sure that you have enough to cover the loss of a loved one.
If you do find yourself in one of these two situations, take the time to look into life insurance in order to protect your estate and your family.
What is an Ascertainable Standard?
An ascertainable standard is put into a trust in order to give the trustee guidance as far as when and how they need to make distributions to the beneficiaries.
A trustee can make distributions to a beneficiary for health, education, maintenance and support. This is also known as the “HEMS” standard. This standard gives the trustee some restriction on what they can make distributions for, but is broad enough language to ensure the beneficiary is taken care of.
For additional information about trusts, request our free book, Do I Really Need a Will.
What are the Benefits of a Lifetime Trust?
There are many benefits to creating a lifetime trust. A lifetime trust can apply to any trust you create and will last for the lifetime of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. It can be applied to an irrevocable trust, a revocable living trust or a testamentary trust. We recommend you think about this lifetime trust option when creating a trust, especially if the beneficiaries of the trust are children.
The great thing about a lifetime trust is that the beneficiaries of the trust will benefit from the trust for their entire lifetime. They can receive distributions from the trust for health, education, maintenance and support, which are pretty broad terms. We call this “perfect asset protection” because the beneficiaries never receive an outright distribution of one lump sum during their lifetime. If a beneficiary is ever sued or gets divorced, a creditor or an ex-spouse cannot get to the money in a lifetime trust.