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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  • What is an Independent Executor?

    An executor is a person or institution appointed to carry out the terms of a Will.

    An executor is considered independent if the decedent (person who passed away) died without a Will OR if the decedent left a Will that specifically states that his executor should be independent.

    When the executor is independent, they are not dependent upon the Court for oversight and approval of all actions.

    Learn more about executors in our article, The 9 Most Common Mistakes Executors Make.

  • Who or What Can Be a Beneficiary?

    You are able to name the following as a beneficiary:

    • One person
    • Two or more people
    • A trust, that is controlled by the appointed trustee
    • A charity
    • Your estate

    This list is not all inclusive and you will need to speak with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss your options when choosing a beneficiary. For additional information about beneficiaries, read our latest blog, The Basics of Beneficiaries.

  • What is a Beneficiary?

    A beneficiary is a person chosen as the recipient of funds or property under a will, trust, insurance policy, 401(k), etc.

    For example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person who receives the payment of insurance after the death of the person that was insured.

  • What is Probate?

    Probate is the act of proving that a Will was signed and executed in accordance with the legal requirements as set out in the State where it was signed. It is through probate that property is legally transferred from the estate of a person, known as the "decedent", to the rightful beneficiary. To determine who the rightful beneficiary is will depend on whether the decedent had a valid Will.

    Probate will:

    1. Ensure that the accounts are settled and stop creditors from attempting to collect if there are no monies. 

    2. Ensure that the title of any of the decedent's assets such as property and real estate would be transferred to the beneficiaries. 

    Seeking the advice of an attorney who specializes in probate law will help you determine what is best for the estate. If your loved one's property and assets must go through the probate process, nothing is to be feared. The attorney you select to represent the estate will guide you through the necessary steps. This will take the pressure off of you.

    Our free book, Who is in Charge After You Die? gives additional information on understanding probate.

  • What If My Spouse Is Not Paying Child Support?

    If your spouse is not making child support payments, you can file an enforcement action in a family law court. The enforcement action asks the court to enforce the court order that says that the spouse is supposed to be paying child support and the amount of child support they’re supposed to be paying.

    For child support only, you can sometimes ask that the spouse be held in contempt of court, fined, or even put in jail. You can also file enforcement actions to enforce a spouse to move out of the house, sell a particular asset or item, or pay off a debt. You could accomplish all these actions through an enforcement action in the family courts.

    For more information about child support, you can request our free report: Child Support in Texas.

  • What is a Primary Beneficiary?

    A primary beneficiary is a person or entity that is first in line to inherit an asset. In the event the primary beneficiary dies, or cannot be located, a secondary beneficiary is the next in line.

  • What Should I Know Before Filing for Divorce?

    First, it's important to consult with an attorney. A lot of family law lawyers out there have free consultations. Regardless of whether you think you want to handle the divorce yourself or not, you should speak with a qualified family law attorney to find out your options. Once you’ve done that, you can determine whether or not you can handle it by yourself. If there are any contested issues in the divorce, however, you should follow up by hiring an attorney.

    Before you file for divorce, know what your assets and liabilities are, especially if you are the spouse who does not handle the money in the marriage. Know where money is spent, your income, your spouse’s income, all debts, who is on the mortgage, etc. You should know this information before you file for divorce as it becomes more difficult and more expensive to find after you file.

    Finally, before filing for divorce, make sure you have a plan of action. Think of what you are going to do next before you go to a court and file for divorce.

    For more information on the divorce process, request our free book, What You Need to Know About Divorce in Texas.

  • Can I have another attorney review my estate planning documents?

    Yes, you are able to have another attorney look at your estate planning documents. You need to ensure that they are a qualified estate planning attorney.

    If you feel you need another attorney to review your documents, that tells us that you didn’t have the confidence in that attorney. If that is the case, then we recommend another estate planning attorney that will grow with you.

    For more information on hiring the right attorney, read our article: What to Look for When Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney.

  • At What Age is My Child Considered an Adult in Texas?

    As a parent, you have control over your children until they are 18 years of age. At the age of 18, they become an adult.

    However, prior to the age of 18, a child can be or may be emancipated, or declared an adult in the eyes of the state of Texas. To declare emancipation, the child must have a full time job, be capable of supporting his/herself, and prove to a court that he/she does not need parental supervision any longer. This is a difficult burden for a teenager to overcome.

  • How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge for Their Services?

    Personal injury lawyers generally work on accident and injury claims on a contingent fee basis.  This means that they charge as their fee a percentage of the recovery obtained for the accident victim, typically between 25 to 40 percent, but personal injury attorneys only get paid if they win your case or get your case settled.  If there is no recovery, then you owe the law firm nothing, which makes it possible for anyone, regardless of their financial status, to hire a skilled attorney to represent them in an injury claim.

  • What is Retroactive Child Support?

    Retroactive child support is when the Court orders a parent to pay child support for past time periods before the child support was ordered. The time period in Texas is generally 4 years.  The Court does have the ability to award less than 4 years of retroactive child support, but the presumption that the amount is reasonable and in the child’s best interest must be rebutted.

    Remember that the Court is not required to and does not automatically order retroactive child support. The custodial parent or the Attorney General must specifically request it. Also, if the obligated parent has previously been ordered to pay child support, the Court cannot order retroactive child support.

    Once retroactive child support is ordered by the court you must pay it. Failure to pay the support could result in other collection efforts or enforcement actions being taken against you.

    Learn more about child support by requesting our free report, Child Support in Texas.

  • What is a Modification in Family Law?

    A modification in family law is a document you file if you want to modify an order that has been put in place, such as a decree of divorce.

    It can modify anything from child custody—if there is a change in the circumstances of who has the children—to child support—if you want to increase, decrease, or eliminate the payments—to decrees that deal with property.

    You would file a modification of that order in the family courts and get a subsequent order with that modification as to what your wishes are.

    Find out more information on family law here.

  • Do I Need a List of Assets to Probate an Estate?

    Yes, it is absolutely necessary to have a list of assets. If you are going through probate, meaning that a loved one has passed away, and you are the executor, you are going to want a list of all the assets. That list is what your probate attorney will need.

    Print out our Probate Checklist to find out what documents you need to settle your loved one's estate.

  • What Does My Estate Consist Of?

    People don't understand what their estates consist of. A lot of times, someone comes in here and says, ‘You know what, I really don't have a lot of money. I have a house; I have a savings account, a checking account. That's really all I have.' Well, my question is, ‘Do you have a life insurance policy?' ‘Well, yeah I have a life insurance policy, but it's not mine, I don't get to benefit from it, it's for my husband, my wife, my kids when I die.'

    People need to really understand what their estates consist of. It consists of any life insurance policy that you may have, any 401k, any IRA, any business interests that you may have, no matter how small. Your house, any vacation homes, your savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks, bonds. When someone really sits down and writes a list of all of those things and how much they have, people are surprised at what their estate truly consists of and how much money there is.

    Want more information? Print our Estate Planning Checklist. This list will enable you to see what your assets are and will be helpful to you when speaking with an estate planning attorney to determine what estate plan is best for your particular situation.

  • Can I My Modify My Child Support Payments?

    Yes, in certain situations you are able to modify child support payments.

    If there is a substantial change in the circumstance for the obligated parent, then a petition may be made to the Court to review and modify child support.

    The laws surrounding child support and modification of child support can be complex and difficult to maneuver through. Our attorneys can assist you with these legal matters and ensure that your children are provided for to the fullest extent permitted under law.

    Learn more information about child support here.

  • How Long do I Have to Pay Child Support in Texas?

    In Texas, child support is generally paid by the obligated parent until the child is the age of 18 or until the child graduates from high school, whichever comes first.

    Child support laws and guidelines differ from state to state. If you are thinking about divorce or separation and there is a child involved, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the laws in your state.

    Find out more information about child support in Texas here.

  • What is Retroactive Child Support?

    Retroactive child support is when the Court orders a parent to pay child support for past time periods before the child support was ordered. The time period in Texas is generally 4 years.  The Court does have the ability to award less than four years of retroactive child support, but the presumption that the amount is reasonable and in the child’s best interest must be rebutted.

    Remember that the Court is not required to and does not automatically order retroactive child support. The custodial parent or the Attorney General must specifically request it. Also, if the obligated parent has previously been ordered to pay child support, the Court cannot order retroactive child support.

    Once retroactive child support is ordered by the court you must pay it. Failure to pay the support could result in other collection efforts or enforcement actions being taken against you.

  • What are Statute of Limitations on My Injury Case in Texas?

    Statutes of limitations are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a lawsuit or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. These time limits depend on the legal claim or crime involved in the case, and they're different from state to state.

    General rules:

    • The time period begins on the date your claim arises or occurs.
    • Once the statute of limitations has expired, you likely will be unable to successfully pursue a lawsuit regardless of the merits of your claim.

    Here is a list of a few statutes of limitations in Texas:

    • Contract : 4 years
    • Fraud: 4 years
    • Legal Malpractice: 2 years
    • Medical Malpractice: 2 years (but before 10 years from the date of the act or omission)
    • Personal Injury: 2 years
    • Product Liability: 2 years (but before 15 years after date of the sale)
    • Property Damage: 2 years
    • Slander: 1 year
    • Trespass: 2 years
    • Wrongful Death: 2 years

    Be aware the laws are subject to change at any time. You are able to check the most current Texas laws here.

    If you believe you have a claim, it’s important that you speak with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

  • Do I Need a Sophisticated Estate Plan?

    Estate planning is no longer just for the wealthy. Depending on your circumstances and what your assets consist of, there may be a place in your estate plan for sophisticated planning, but in most cases, sophisticated planning in not necessary. Speak with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss your options.

    Aren’t sure what your assets consist of? Get started by printing out our Estate Planning Checklist!

  • What is a Spendthrift Trust?

    If you have a spouse, child or grandchild that loves to spend money they are considered a spendthrift. Whether you give them $50 or $5,000, they will spend it very quickly.

    "Studies have shown that out of 100 children who inherit $1 million dollars, only 1 child will still have that $1 million after a 10 year period."

    There is a special Trust that can be incorporated in your Will for the benefit of your loved one. It is called a Spendthrift Trust. This Trust will ensure that your loved one does not spend the lump sum of their inheritance all at once.

    As the creator of the Trust, you appoint a Trustee, who is someone you trust, or even a Bank or Trust Company. The Trustee you appoint has the authority to make distributions to your spouse, child or grandchild. All of the assets of the Trust are used for their benefit but your loved one cannot access the assets on their own. This will ensure that the assets in the Trust last for an extended period of time.