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Wills and Probate

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Stephens & Stephens prepare Last Will and Testament, living wills, medical powers of attorney, and Durable Power of Attorneys. A simple will is one with no trusts or complicated disposition of property. Usually everything is left to the spouse or to the children.

A Living Will (Directive to Physicians) is made while you are competent. It instructs your doctors that should you have an incurable or terminal condition on how to treat your condition. You may direct that you remain on life-support or that life support be withheld and allow you to die naturally. This is your decision not your physician.

A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make them for yourself and covers terminal as well as non-terminal medical issues.

Frequently asked questions Wills, Estate and Probate

Why You Should Have a Will

If you have a will, you can …

  • Designate who will act as executor of your estate in probate
  • Provide for the independent administration of your estate
  • Designate who will receive your property
  • Name the guardians of your minor children and establish Trusts for their welfare in the event you and your spouse are deceased

If you have a will, by using a trust, you can delay receipt of part or all of your property until the heir reaches a certain age.

What Happens If Someone Dies Without a Will?

When a person dies without a will, it is said that the person died “intestate.” Each state has intestacy laws in place which determine who is entitled to the deceased’s property and assets.

While intestacy laws vary slightly from state to state, they generally follow the same path, especially for smaller estates. If someone dies without a will but owns no property and has assets of less than $100,000, no formal court proceeding is required. At Stephens & Stephens we can help avoid costly probate proceedings.

If property is involved, however, settling the estate becomes more complicated.

Distribution of an Estate in Texas without a Will

If you die without a will ("intestate"), in Texas, then you Estate will pass according to the laws of descent and distribution.

Your estate will not necessarily go to the state, unless no heirs can be found. Your estate will be responsible for the costs of searching for your heirs, and for the legal costs of an 'attorney ad litem' whom the court may appoint to represent unknown and missing heirs.

The court will also appoint an Administrator to handle your estate, and the administration most likely will be a dependent administration; i.e. the Administrator is subject to court supervision in the administration of your estate. The Administrator must apply to the court for every action the Administrator wishes to take, the court may grant permission after a hearing, then the Administrator has to report back to the court on the actions taken, and the court then may approve the actions after a hearing. All those costs of administration are borne by your estate before any distribution is made.

Distribution is based upon marital status, presence or absence of children, whether the children are of the decedent and