Wills        Probate        Trust        Powers of Attorney        Guardianship        Family Law



Powers of Attorney


Family Law
Do you need a Will?  Probably.  A Will provides great value if you own real estate, have children, or have stepchildren.  If you die without a Will, the probate courts will use the state’s default rules to decide who gets what interest in your assets.  One of the most devastating things I often have to tell a client is that, because his or her deceased spouse did not leave a Will, the client now co-owns the house with his or her stepchildren.   A properly-drafted Will can avoid such unintended consequences.

Once a loved one has passed away, will it be necessary for his or estate be probated?  That depends.  If your loved one died with a Will, his or her Will may need to be admitted to probate in order that clear title to certain assets can pass to named beneficiaries.  Most of the time in Texas, a Will can be probated in what is called an “independent administration,” which means that there is no costly court supervision of every action taken by the executor.  Consequently, probate in Texas is often far simpler and less expensive than in many other states.  If your loved one died without a Will, but owned titled assets in his or her name, probate may be necessary to clear title in that instance also.  A probate proceeding can be undertaken in which the heirs will be declared by a judge.  The assets can then be distributed to the heirs in accordance with the law.


Do you need a Trust?  Maybe.  I often draft Trusts for clients in any of the following circumstances:  they own real estate in a state where probate is problematic; they predict a bitter Will contest; they have assets that need management by a Trustee after their passing; or they wish to avoid the public nature of probate.

Do you need a Power of Attorney?  Most likely.  In the event of your incapacity, the lack of a General Durable financial Power of Attorney can mean that costly guardianship court proceedings will be necessary.  In addition, such a Power of Attorney allows appointment of a trusted person as your agent; in guardianship, it is possible that someone you do not know could be appointed guardian.  Other powers of attorney can also serve great needs under the correct circumstances:  the Medical Power of Attorney names your agent (s) to make medical decisions if you cannot do so yourself; the Authorization to Release Medical Information, pursuant to the HIPAA privacy law, allows health care providers to release your medical information to your named medical agents; the Directive to Physicians allows you to express your wishes in the end-of-life decision-making context; the Declaration of Guardian sets out your wishes as to who should handle decision-making should you ever need a guardian; the Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains names the person(s) who will have the authority to make funeral, memorial , and similar decisions; and the Anatomical Gift Act Designation sets out your wishes with regard to organ and tissue donation.


One of the most difficult circumstances a person can be in is the situation where a loved one has become incapacitated and is in need of a guardian.  The loved one (called the Proposed Ward when guardianship is sought) may be extremely upset by the fact that guardianship has been filed, and there may be very raw feelings on both sides.  The rules regarding filing for guardianship and administering a guardianship once granted are complex; our office can help explain them in an understandable way.


Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances, and is practically unbearable under the worst of circumstances.  Our office can help you through the process.  Need a name change?  We can do those as well.