What Probate Attorneys Do
Your family may want to speak with a probate attorney in The Woodlands after the passing of a loved one . A probate lawyer handles the administrative process of settling the decedent’s affairs. It’s commonly thought that probate is a lengthy and arduous process, but in fact, probate lawyers commonly succeed int making the process relatively easy for the surviving family members.
You can watch this video to hear a little more about what a probate attorney can do for your family. This legal professional explains that the probate lawyer may pay the decedent’s debts and taxes from his or her estate, take an inventory of the assets, and oversee the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. Probate attorneys can also handle disputes among heirs regarding inherited property.
How Is Child Support Determined?
Under the Texas Constitution, all parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. According to family law in Texas, “a parent” refers to the child’s biological mother and a man who either signed a paternity acknowledgment, was married to the mother, or who has been otherwise legally determined to be the child’s biological father. Adoptive parents are also responsible for financially supporting their adopted children. Texas family law requires parents to support a child until he or she turns 18 years old, with some exceptions. Whichever parent does not have primary custody of the child is generally known as the obligor; and it is he or she who is obligated to pay child support. Child support rules are multi-faceted and so a family law attorney in The Woodlands is best able to help you estimate the amount you could be ordered to pay or receive.
The income of the obligor is the most significant factor when calculating child support. In Texas, parents are required to submit to the court information about their gross income. If they are self-employed, they must submit their average monthly self-employment income, which is gross income less business expenses.
Inform your child support lawyers of any deductions that the court should consider when calculating the amount of your payment. This may include health insurance premiums that you pay for your children. You may also be allowed to deduct court-ordered alimony or child support that you are already paying for a previous marriage and other children. When in doubt, let your attorney know what costs or expenses should be deducted, nothing should be left “off the table.”
The amount of the child support payment will be adjusted depending on how many children must be supported. If you are paying child support for two children, the amount of the original payment is not doubled. Instead, the payment is increased by a certain percentage of your income.
Texas family court judges use family code guidelines when calculating the amount of child support to order. However, there are circumstances in which a judge will consider adjusting the support amount. The amount may be increased or decreased depending on the child’s age and needs, educational expenses, extraordinary healthcare expenses, and any other factors that speak to the best interests of the child.
Why You May Need a Living Trust
If you do not yet have a living trust , consider talking to a probate attorney near The Woodlands about whether this arrangement might benefit you. When you create a living trust, you can name yourself as the trustee to remain in full control of any assets you transfer into the trust. You can use the trust to pass on assets to your heirs after your death. One main benefit of having a probate attorney establish a living trust for you is that any property that remains in the trust at the time of your death will not go through the probate process. This means that if your heirs need financial resources right away after your passing, they can have access to them without waiting for the estate to be closed.
In some cases, it is more difficult to challenge a living trust than to challenge a will. If someone challenges the validity of a living trust, he or she would need to prove that you were mentally incompetent at the time the trust created or perhaps that your signature was forged. Generally, the fact that you continued to manage the trust after you created it is sufficient proof of your mental competence. However, be aware. There are often very good reasons not to create a trust for your properties. For example, the “taxable basis” of your trust property may be different than what it would be if the property were inherited in a simple probate case, so consult with a lawer prior to creating such an instrument without proper counsel.
Refusing to Sign Divorce Papers
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses may sign a divorce decree agreeing to the terms of the divorce, such as the division of property. Alternatively, one of the spouses may simply not oppose the terms set forth by the other spouse. Nevertheless, if one spouse refuses to sign-off on a divorce decree, then the divorce becomes a “contested divorce.” Regardless of whether you expect your divorce to be uncontested or contested, you should seek divorce advice from a family law attorney in The Woodlands. Divorce lawyers will handle your case for you, letting you move forward with your new life.
Will the Refusal Halt the Divorce?
It’s a common misconception that when one spouse refuses to sign the papers, the divorce is placed on indefinite hold. In fact, one spouse cannot hold the other “hostage” in the marriage by refusing to sign the paperwork. However, it does mean that it may take longer to finalize the divorce.
What Does It Mean to Set a Case for Hearing?
When a divorce is contested because one of the spouses refuses to sign the divorce decree, then the court will resolve the contested issues at trial. Your divorce lawyers will contact the clerk or administrator of the court to set a final hearing on the case. Shortly after setting a case for final hearing, the other party must be notified in writing of the hearing date and time. While awaiting the hearing, your divorce lawyers will conduct discovery, which is the process of obtaining information to be presented in court. This includes information about the marital assets, income, and similar issues. At court, each party has the opportunity to present evidence before the judge.
Should You Try Mediation?
Before the case goes to trial, there is still time to attempt to transition a contested divorce to an amicable divorce. Some court require mediation prior to any trial of your case. Even if a court does not require mediation, you might consider enlisting the help of a professional mediator, who is a neutral third party. Mediation can often help two parties with divergent goals and viewpoints find common ground. Mediators cannot force the parties to agree to anything. If mediation fails, then the case will go to trial.
Tax Tips for the Newly Single
Divorce affects your finances in a number of different ways, including the way you pay your taxes. Before you decide how to file your taxes, talk to your divorce lawyer in The Woodlands to ensure you’re making the right financial decision and to avoid any complications. Oftentimes, I divorce lawyer will refer you to a certified public account for specific direction.
This video explains your options for filing taxes after you file divorce papers. If your divorce is finalized by the last day of the year, you can file as a single person. Your divorce lawyers should work out which spouse gets to claim head of household status, based on each party’s financial contribution. Child support and other post-divorce payments can figure into your tax filings as well. Your divorce lawyer can give you advice on tax filings to shield you from responsibility for your ex’s tax debts and complications caused by incorrect deduction claims.
Hiring a Family Law Attorney
If you are in the market for a family lawyer in The Woodlands, then you may be wondering what to look for in a family law attorney. As with any other attorney, the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the person whom you choose.
When you hire a family law attorney, it’s important to insure that he or she has significant experience in family law practice. An experienced family lawyer can represent you no matter how complicated your case may turn out. He or she should know the state family law statutes and case law, as well as local courtroom procedures. A prospective attorney will also likely have handled many similar cases in the past and can advise you of possible outcomes.
For a family law attorney in Conroe, TX, look no further than the office of Andrew J. Bolton, Esq. With nearly 25 years legal experience, Andrew J. Bolton is dedicated to protecting your assets and doing what is best in your family law matter. Call us at (936) 435-1908 to get started.
Get the Facts on Child Support [Infographic]
When you and your spouse are in the process of a divorce, it can be a stressful time for everyone involved. During matters of child custody near The Woodlands , the issue of child support payments will come up. There is no national standard for determining the amount of child support; rather, each state has its own guidelines to figure out what an adequate monthly payment may be. In Texas, child support is determined through figuring out the paying parent’s monthly “net income,” and then calculating a percentage that varies depending on how many children are being supported. Failure to pay child support can result in wage garnishment, suspension of driver’s license, and other consequences—even time in prison. Take a look at this infographic to get the facts about child support. Please share with your friends and family.
Factors that May Influence Your Child Custody Case
Generally, it is preferable that both parents work together to develop a mutually agreeable plan of conservatorship or custody. This collaborative approach, which minimizes conflict, may be facilitated by a family law attorney . Nevertheless, when parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will establish child custody arrangements. As your divorce lawyer serving The Woodlands can advise you, the judge will make a decision based on what he or she feels is in the child’s best interests. In some cases, one parent may have significant problems such as a history of child neglect or drug abuse. Such issues can prompt a judge to grant custody to the other parent. However, in many cases, there are other subtle factors, such as the stability of the family home, which may also have a large influence on the judge’s decision.
Some family law experts suggest that judges are often influenced by the residency of each parent. This means that child custody may be more likely to be granted to the parent who will continue living in the family home. Similarly, a parent who has obtained custody of the minor children may be more likely to be awarded the family home in connection with a divorce. Attorneys will generally advise clients not to move out of the family home if custody will be at issue. However, if you have moved out of the family home, your family law attorney may advise you to arrange for permanent housing as quickly as possible, to demonstrate stability. Arranging for permanent housing in close proximity to the children’s schools, whenever possible, is ideal.
In family court, allegations made by the parents are often of a “he said, she said” nature. To substantiate your case, your family attorney may offer evidence that you have a history of cooperating with the other parent or that the other parent has a history of non-cooperation, or even a history of using derogatory language about you in front of the child. Oftentimes, a family court judge might award child custody to the parent who is most likely to cooperate with the other parent and who tries to preserve the child’s relationship with the other parent.
All children need stability and continuity for their healthy socio-emotional development. Since a divorce significantly changes a child’s life, the judges try to minimize its effects as much as possible. If one parent has been primarily caring for the children while the divorce case was pending, that parent may be more likely to be awarded custody. If you see a divorce coming, it is wise to establish yourself as the child’s primary caregiver in the months leading up to the filing.
When You Should Consider Filing for Guardianship
You might consider filing for guardianship with the help of a family law attorney if you have a family member who is no longer capable of behaving in a manner consistent with his or her own interests. For example, a family member may become physically incapacitated through an accident, or as a result of being hospitalized on a long-term basis. An attorney in Spring, TX, may also help you file for guardianship if a loved one has become mentally incapacitated. For example, an adult child may have special mental or emotional needs, or be entitled to receive social security benefits. In such cases, guardianships are critical to getting the child much needed help. Guardianship may also be sought if the individual could be considered incapable of making financial decisions, such as in cases where the proposed ward is a minor.
Since guardianship of a disabled child or an adult requires making crucial, potentially life-changing decisions, it’s important to proceed cautiously. You can receive the legal guidance you need when you consult a lawyer about this aspect of family law. Finally, your family lawyer can also help you seek guardianship of an individual whom you believe is not being adequately represented by a person who holds power of attorney.
Steps to Preparing Your Will
If you’re an adult, and if you haven’t yet prepared your will, it’s time to make an appointment with a lawyer who provides estate planning in Conroe, TX. It is worrisome that most Americans pass away intestate, which means they die without a will. When this happens, their estate is subject to inflexible state regulations and guidelines. Additionally, family conflicts over finances and legal guardianship of children may be more likely to occur when a loved one dies intestate. You can protect your family by having a qualified attorney draft your will for you.
Make a List of Your Assets
Before you meet with a lawyer to have your will drafted, you’ll need to make a list of your assets. This is not so much for inclusion into the will, but to give your attorney an idea of what’s involved in the estate. Such a list should include intangible assets such as your bank accounts, along with physical property such as family heirlooms and jewelry. Any assets you have that name a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policies or joint bank accounts, will go to that particular beneficiary. In other words, you cannot use your will to override your beneficiary designations. However, you can change your beneficiary designations, if desired. You can use your will to designate heirs for most all other assets.
Evaluate Prospective Legal Guardians
Choosing a legal guardian for a minor child can be one of the most difficult decisions a parent will face, particularly if there are no obvious candidates available. If you have siblings or other family members, then your will could name one of them to be the legal guardian of your child. However, you should carefully consider whether any particular candidate may be more likely than others to adhere to your preferences for your child’s upbringing. In sum, communication prior to tragedy often limits the scope of that tragedy.
Revisit Your Lawyer Periodically
Estate planning isn’t a “one and done” procedure. As your life circumstances change, so too should your will. Where large estates are involved, it might be wise to make an appointment with your lawyer at least every five years to re-evaluate your situation in light of any recent tax law changes. You should also schedule appointments if you experience a significant change in circumstances, such as the birth of a child, a divorce, a marriage, or the death of a family member if that passing affects your finances.
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