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  • Probate Bonds 101

    Many people involved with an estate go through the probate process without the need to secure a probate bond . If a family in The Woodlands does need a probate bond, then the probate lawyer can provide legal guidance in this area. A probate bond, also referred to as a fiduciary bond, and is simply a way to protect the estate from fraudulent or incompetent acts.

    Understanding Probate Bonds probate bonds

    When a probate bond is required, the executor of the estate must post the bond. The executor is the person responsible for identifying the beneficiaries, satisfying any claims against the estate, and distributing the estate in accordance with the decedent’s will. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for executors to engage in fraudulent acts for their own gain or simply to manager or administer the estate in an incompetent fashion. Probate bonds therefore provide an added measure of protection for the estate and the beneficiaries.

    Recognizing When Probate Bonds Are Needed

    Probate bonds are not always necessary, but executors may be required to post them when the estate is affected by unsecured debts. By posting a fiduciary bond, the executor is ensuring that these unsecured debts will be satisfied from the assets of the estate. If the will has not designated a specific executor, then a probate bond may be required in order to protect the beneficiaries. In some cases, the will may specify that the executor is required to post a bond. In other cases, the court may require that the executor post a bond. This may occur in cases when the estate involves substantial assets. Lastly, a probate bond may be required if one or more of the heirs named in the will refuse to provide consent to waive the bond requirement.

    Identifying the Executor’s Fiduciary Duties

    The fiduciary duty of the executor is to the beneficiaries. Subject to the probate court’s supervision, the executor is responsible for keeping the assets of the estate completely separate from his or her own assets. The executor must keep careful, accurate records of all matters pertaining to the assets of the estate. Those records must be made available to the beneficiaries upon request. If the executor carries out his or her fiduciary duties competently and does not engage in fraudulent acts, then the amount of the probate bond will be returned to him or her when the estate is settled.

  • What Is an Heir Apparent?

    If a close family member has passed away, then it is in your best interests to consult a will attorney in The Woodlands. A will attorney can help you determine whether you may be an heir or an heir apparent. This designation is significant when the decedent has died without a will or living trust, or where the will may be proven to be invalid.

    To find out whether you’re an heir or an heir apparent, you may watch this video or consult your will attorney. Usually, a deceased individual’s surviving spouse and children are the heirs. An example of an heir apparent might be a living grandchild. The heir apparent might stand to inherit part or all of the estate, but this will only happen if there are no living heirs.

  • What Is Power of Attorney?

    Power of attorney is a designation that allows someone to make decisions for someone else—to act on their behalf. Generally speaking, when a person becomes incapacitated, he or she is no longer able to make legal and financial decisions on his or her own behalf. In such cases, a power of attorney can serve as a useful tool. It is possible for the court in Houston to appoint someone to make these decisions for the individual, but this is usually not the preferred situation as it is both cumbersome and costly. By designating power of attorney to a close family member or friend, the afflicted individual will have peace of mind knowing that, in the event of incapacitation, important decisions will be made by a trusted person.

    When someone is granted power of attorney, the designation may go into effect immediately or it may not go into effect until the grantor becomes incapacitated. Be careful, individuals who hold another’s power of attorney have a legal duty to act in good faith when managing the grantor’s financial assets and legal matters. It is possible for legal action to be taken if a person with power of attorney is alleged to have mismanaged the grantor’s affairs.

    Power of attorney

  • Probate Spotlight: Disputing an Inheritance

    The act of contesting a will in The Woodlands is often seen in an unfavorable light. Opinionated individuals may feel that contesting a will is disrespectful to the decedent, or is, perhaps, little more than an attempt to obtain more financial assets. In fact, estate law does allow legal grounds for challenging a will, with good reason. People who are elderly, in poor health, or otherwise vulnerable may be taken advantage of by non-family caregivers or other individuals. So when a will truly isn’t valid, then the rightful beneficiaries may not receive the inheritance that the decedent desired.

    Time Limits  Disputing an Inheritance

    If you suspect that your loved one’s will is invalid, it’s always in your best interests to consult an estate lawyer right away. There are certain time limits to contesting a will. If you know that you are an heir, the deadline is two years from the date that the will was admitted to probate. If you didn’t know that you are an heir, such as if you’ve only recently discovered your birth parents, you have four years to file a challenge from the date at which the estate was closed. Minors must file a challenge within two years from the date of their majority.

    Improper Execution

    One of the grounds for challenging the validity of a will is that the document was improperly executed. For example, if it is a holographic will, it might not have been written entirely in the decedent’s handwriting. If it is an attested will, it might not have been signed by the necessary witnesses, or that the witnesses were disqualified by law from acting as witnesses.

    Undue Influence

    Wills are intended to carry out the wishes of the decedent after his or her death, but sometimes they can be unduly influenced by other parties. Your attorney may argue that the will is invalid because another person used his or her influence to undermine or overpower the decedent at the time that he or she signed the will.

    Testamentary Incapacity

    In order for a will to be valid, the testator must be of sound mind at the time of the signing. Your attorney may use medical records and other types of evidence to argue that the decedent was mentally incapable of understanding the effect of the will, the extent of the property, and other aspects of will creation.