Wills, Trusts and Probate

We at the Bloodworth Law Firm, provide a variety of legal services in the area of Wills, Probate, and Estate Planning.

Texas has a streamlined probate system that allows a person with proper help from an attorney avoid many costly mistakes in passing their property to their loved ones after their death. A majority of Texas living in Texas DO NOT HAVE A WILL. This means that most Texans are UNPREPARED for the certainty of death and the passing of their property. Estate Plans often thought of as devises just for the "rich" are not always expensive and are the best way for a young family with minor children to protect how their children grow up and how they turnout in life. We at the Bloodworth Law Firm, can work with you to make sure that what you own is passed on to who you want, how you want, when you want; by drafting a Will, Trust, or other Estate Planning tools to accomplish your wishes. We handle everything from very simple estates using "Simple Will" which we do on a "flat Fee" basis; to the very complex estates utilizing specialized estate planning devises and appraisals.

Last Will and Testament

A person's last will and testament is one of the most important documents a person signs in their entire life. I am often in the Court room of the Courthouse in Huntsville, Texas where General Sam Houston, Texas Hero, and 1st President of the Republic of Texas lived, practiced law, and died. Sam Houston began his Last Will and Testament like this: "In the name of God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, I, Sam Houston, of the County of Walker and the State of Texas, being fully aware of the uncertainty of live, and the certainty of death, do ordain and declare this my last Will and Testament."

A person's Last Will and Testament is his or her last statement on earth and allows them to speak to the world after dying. A will is a legal document that, if executed properly, can be probated and determines how a decedent's property passes after his or her death, i.e., it establishes inheritance rights. For a will to be valid, it must be in writing and executed (signed) by a testator (person signing the will) at a time when that testator is over the age of 18, is in his or her right mind and which is signed in the presence of two witnesses over the age of 14. A will can also be valid if it is written entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed by him or her. A will must be probated, that is to say, found by a court to be valid before it has any binding effect.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney are documents that one may execute/sign to give power to another person to act for them if they are alive but unable or unwilling to act themselves. This inability is often due to the person's schedule or "availability" to be physically present to sign a document or carry out an act. Powers of Attorney once signed are effective for as long as the power is given as stated in the document or until the document is revoked or until the person signing the Power of Attorney dies. Many times people are under the mistaken impression that a Power of Attorney is effective AFTER DEATH, THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Durable Powers of Attorney

A "Durable" power of Attorney is a document that continues to be effective even if the person originally signing the Power of Attorney later becomes incapacitated, such as being involved in a car accident that leaves them alive but comatose, or disabled due to dementia or "Alzheimer's disease". This power of attorney also ceases to be legally effective at the death of the person giving the power of attorney to another person.

Medical Powers of Attorney

A medical power of attorney is a special document that conveys the legal authority for another person to make medical decisions for the person signing the power of attorney. Typically, Husbands and Wives are used to giving and receiving instructions from a Doctor for the care of their spouse, however, this practice is not actually legal unless a spouse has executed a Medical Power of Attorney in favor of that spouse. In Texas, Medical Powers of Attorney must be a separate and distinct document from other Powers of Attorney. In fact the Texas Legislature felt so strongly about the effect of Medical Powers of Attorney that the Legislature passed a law that requires a person signing a Medical Power of Attorney to read and understand and sign acknowledging that the person has been advised of their rights regarding a Medical Power of Attorney and that they understand those rights.

If you need a Will, Power of Attorney, or Medical Power of Attorney please contact us at the Bloodworth Law Firm. We will be glad to schedule an appointment with you to discuss these important documents that all adults need to protect and provide for themselves and their families in a time of need. Once a person loses "capacity" they may not legally sign documents prepared for them. This means that if you wait till the need actually arises it will be too late.

Contested Probate

We at the Bloodworth Law Firm, also represent people in Probate Litigation. Whether it be filing a will for probate or contesting a will that has been filed by someone else for probate, we at the Bloodworth Law Firm are uniquely qualified to represent you in any matter involving Wills, Probate and Estate Planning.

If you have custody of a dead person's will and you have been named the executor of the will you must present the will for probate within a certain period of time or you may be removed by a Court as Executor. Also, wills must be offered for probate within 4 years of the date of death. Failure to follow these and other rules can significantly increase the costs of probate and transfer of property to the rightful owners.

Unfortunately, sometimes, (usually later in life when persons suffer from Alzheimer's Disease or has some form of dementia, unscrupulous people can take advantage of a loved one and cause a Will to be prepared that does not reflect the true intentions of the testator. These conditions and the aging process make the testator weak - weaker than they had been in the past - preventing them from protecting themselves against these unscrupulous people. In that situation, a new will which the unscrupulous person tricks or convinces an elderly or infirm person into signing, does not properly express the true intentions of the decedent. Such a Will, can be contested by spouses, children, heirs or others interested in the estate. If it can be proven to the Court that the will was signed because of a lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud or even forgery, the disputed will can be set aside by the Court.

The Bloodworth Law Firm, is committed to fighting for the intentions of a decedent and his or her loved ones by contesting the Will and asking a Court to invalidate the will in order to restore the inheritance rights as originally planned by the person making the will. A suit to invalidate the will, often referred to as a will contest can be filed seeking to rectify and correct such injustice.

It is important to hire an attorney to file a will contest quickly because there are advantages to filing your contest before the Will is admitted to probate. However, a will contest can be filed up to 2 years after the date of the court order admitting the will to probate - a post-probate contest. If a contest is not filed within 2 years following the date of the order probating the will, then the contest/claim is forever barred, unless it can be proven to the Court that the will is was forged or is in some other way a fraud.

If you need to prepare your Last Will and Testament or if you have custody or possession of a Will that needs to be filed for probate, please call us at the Bloodworth Law Firm, we care about you and your loved ones, and would like very much to help you.