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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  • 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 You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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. 

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Has A Loved One Passed Away And You Find Yourself In Need Of A Probate Attorney?

    If you find yourself involved in the confusing probate process help is available. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced probate attorney.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Has A Loved One Passed Away And You Find Yourself In Need Of A Probate Attorney?

    If you find yourself involved in the confusing probate process help is available. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced probate attorney.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Child Support Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, ex perienced child support lawyer please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation.

  • 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.

    Has A Loved One Passed Away And You Find Yourself In Need Of A Probate Attorney?

    If you find yourself involved in the confusing probate process help is available. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced probate attorney.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Divorce Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, experienced divorce attorney please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free 
    consultation.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Divorce Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, experienced divorce attorney please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free 
    consultation.

  • 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.

    Have You Been Injured In A Dallas, Texas Area Accident?

    If you've been hurt in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Child Support Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, ex perienced child support lawyer please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Divorce Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, experienced divorce attorney please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free 
    consultation.

  • 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.

    Has A Loved One Passed Away And You Find Yourself In Need Of A Probate Attorney?

    If you find yourself involved in the confusing probate process help is available. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced probate attorney.

  • 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.

    Do You Need The Guidance Of An Experienced Estate Planning Attorney?

    If you find yourself thinking more and more about how to preserve your assets for your family you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202.

  • 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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Child Support Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, ex perienced child support lawyer please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation.

  • 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.

    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.

    Are You In Need Of An Experienced Child Support Lawyer In The Dallas, Texas Area?

    If you need a caring, ex perienced child support lawyer please contact us online or call our Dallas office directly at 214.559.7202 to schedule your free consultation.