• A Quick Look at Living Trusts

    An estate planning attorney in The Woodlands can help you determine if a living trust is right for your needs. A living trust is an arrangement that holds assets you choose to transfer into it. Unlike a last will and testament, a living trust goes into effect during your lifetime and may continue well after your death. Many people choose to create living trusts because they allow assets to be distributed to heirs without going through probate. Such an arrangement may be more of convenience and, unlike wills that go through probate, a living trust is not usually open to the public. Nevertheless, one should never use a trust in place of a will. They work together to protect your interests.

    Watch this featured video for a basic introduction to living trusts. This professional explains that, although a living trust cannot serve as a substitute for a will, it can be an important tool for a comprehensive estate plan. You may choose to designate a trustee to manage the living trust during your lifetime or you may prefer to retain control.

  • Legal Disputes Regarding Guardianship Over Minor Children

    Many people assume that it isn’t necessary to have a last will and testament if their estate is small. But in fact, every adult who has a minor child should visit an estate planning attorney to have a will drafted near Conroe, TX. A will can accomplish more for you than merely designating beneficiaries for various assets. Wills also allow parents to designate guardians in the event that they die before their children reach the age of majority. In addition, a guardian might also be appointed to care for an adult child of a deceased parent if that child has incapacitating special needs.

    Contesting a Guardian’s Eligibility Guardianship Over Minor Children

    Disputes regarding guardianship may arise when the guardian’s legal eligibility is called into question. If a deceased parent did not appoint a guardian in the will, then the court will usually appoint the next of kin as guardian. Another relative may contest that person’s eligibility to serve as guardian on the basis of that person’s poor conduct. Alternatively, a guardian appointed by the court or designated in a will may be disqualified from caring for minor children because of a conviction of any of the following:

    • Sexual assault
    • Aggravated sexual assault
    • Aggravated assault
    • Abandonment or endangerment of a minor
    • Incest
    • Inflicting injury on a child

    Even if a designated guardian has not been convicted of such offenses at the time that he or she takes custody of the child, their guardianship may be reversed later on if the guardian is subsequently convicted of a criminal offense, or has neglected the child.

    Demonstrating Parental Relationships

    Legal disputes may also develop if a minor child still has a living, biological parent. Texas law gives preference to appointing the natural parent of a child as the legal guardian. This means that if one of the parents dies, the other parent may petition for custody even if the deceased parent had expressed a preference for another guardian in the will. For example, Mary drafts a will that designates her child’s grandparents as the legal guardians in the event of her death. She prefers that her ex-husband, John, not be appointed as the guardian because of his documented history with substance abuse and prior convictions. In addition to designating a guardian in her will, Mary has her lawyer draft a document that explains and gives evidence of John’s unfitness as a parent. Without evidence of parental unfitness, the court may have given preference to John because of the biological relationship.

  • Do You Need an Heir for Your Facebook Account?

    If you’ve already met with an estate planning attorney in The Woodlands, then consider perhaps moving on to another aspect of your final arrangements: Your social network accounts. Facebook now allows users to select a legacy contact. Your legacy contact can manage certain parts of your Facebook account after your death, but cannot delete the entire account.

    Watch this video to hear more about selecting a legacy contact and what happens if you die without a legacy contact. The primary purpose of a legacy contact is to allow your Facebook page to become an enduring memorial after your death. The designated individual can post information about the memorial and funeral services, and he or she can download the photos and posts you put up during life. Another option Facebook allows is simply to delete your account entirely upon your death.