Probate & Estate Planning

Probate & Estate Planning Services By Attorneys

Melissa Lanier Attorney At LawI offer personalized service that meets the individual needs and goals of each client. I help you develop the legally binding plan that best protects your assets and your family’s future.

As your estate planning attorney, I appreciate that your primary concern is to provide for your family.  My services give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your careful estate planning will help to support your family. Prearranging the course of your financial affairs eases the burden you and your family feel as you face other crucial end-of-life decisions.

Wherever you are in the course of your life or career, it’s never too early to start planning for the future. An estate plan ensures the fair and equitable division of your assets according to your specific wishes. Make sure you are in control of your assets.

While estate law is often complicated, I make the process straightforward so you can be certain that you’ve made the appropriate arrangements. Schedule a consultation at my law office to discuss:

  • A will.  A simple will designates who will inherit your property when you die. Texas law has very specific requirements for the distribution of property when you do not have a will.  Without a will, your property may not be given to the people who need it most!  A will also designates who will be responsible for your minor children if they are left alone.
  • An advance directive.  Also known as a living will, this document lets doctors and family members know what you want if you become incapacitated.  We all remember the horror of the Terry Schiavo case.  You can prevent a similar problem with an advance directive.
  • A medical power of attorney.  This document appoints someone else, someone you trust, to make medical decisions for you if you cannot.  It differs from an advance directive in that an AD specifies whether or not to keep you alive through extraordinary measures; a medical POA allows your agent to consent to medical treatment if you are unconscious.
  • A durable power of attorney.  This document allows someone you trust to act in your name.  Have you ever gone to the DMV to get tags for your car, and been told you can’t because your spouse’s name is on the title? A POA gives your spouse or other agent the authority to sign papers and conduct business in your name. It can be made effective immediately, or only upon your incapacity.
  • HIPAA Release. This document allows your doctor to discuss your condition with your family members, explain your treatment to them, and go over options and alternatives.
  • Declaration of Guardianship.  No one wants to think about it, but chances are we will all get old and have difficulty caring for ourselves at some point.  A declaration of guardianship specifies who you want to take care of you, should the need arise.

Texas Probate

I understand that probate administration is a delicate task that requires deep familiarity with the law. Let me provide you with the peace of mind that comes from having a knowledgeable attorney on your case.

The distribution of assets can quickly become a complicated process. However, as your lawyer for probate administration, I minimize the stress on you and your family and ensure that your best interests are protected.

Independent Administration of Estates

Most Texas wills direct the named executor to pursue independent administration, because it’s quicker, simpler, and less expensive than the alternative, dependent administration. Even if the will doesn’t provide for independent administration (or there isn’t a will at all), the executor or administrator can ask the court for authority to act as an independent executor if all beneficiaries agree.

Muniment of Title

The “muniment of title” process is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to transfer estate assets when there’s a will. It can be used when:

  • there is a valid will
  • there are no unpaid debts, except those secured by real estate, and
  • Medicaid has no claim against the estate for recovery of benefits received by the deceased person.

Small Estate Affidavits

In certain circumstances, the people who inherit don’t have to open a probate court proceeding or use a muniment of title. If there is no will and total value of the probate estate is $50,000 or less, then the people who inherit property can prepare a simple affidavit (sworn statement) to collect the property.

Small Estate Procedures

Texas executors can use a simplified small estate process if the value of the property doesn’t exceed what’s needed to pay the family allowance and certain creditors. The executor presents an accounting showing where the estate money went, and the court approves it and closes the estate.