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Dear Mr. Premack: The Texas legislature is out of session for 2021. Did they pass any new laws that may influence my estate planning? – R.B. In each legislative term, the State Bar of Texas makes recommendations to the legislature about new laws attorneys would like to have passed, and about modifications to estate planning and probate laws which will make the system work more smoothly. However, in this 2021 legislative session the recommended changes to the Estates Code did not pass the legislature. According to those who closely watch the proceedings, there were no substantive objections to the proposals.…
Dear Mr. Premack: I am approaching my 60’s and have what I think is a problem which is more common that many people would expect. I am unmarried, have no children, have no siblings, and my parents are deceased. I am aging solo. Yes, because I didn’t have children, I am financially stable. I also have a few close friends who are near my age. I just don’t know how to plan for the future, when someday I may become ill, need a caregiver, need a financial assistant, and someday need to leave my remaining assets to someone when I…
Dear Mr. Premack: My father, a widower, has an account into which Social Security made his monthly deposit. He died on March 30 this year, and on the very next day a deposit appeared in his account from the Treasury marked “economic impact payment”. He had been quite comfortable and paying high taxes for years. His deposited amount was lower than we heard others were receiving. Was this deposited money the pandemic payment that Congress just authorized? Do I have to return the money, or does it stay in the account? – H.O. This stimulus payment, authorized by Congress and…
Dear Mr. Premack: About 30 years ago, my childless aunt and uncle decided they did not want to have a relationship with me anymore. My husband and I never understood their reasons, and though I tried to reconcile several times my efforts were always rejected. When my uncle died a few years ago, I was not listed in his obituary or Will as part of the family even though my mother and brothers were included. Now my aunt has died, and again I am not listed as part of the family. I saw a copy of her probated Will and…
Dear Mr. Premack: My aunt made a Will that named her older brother as Executor. She recently died, but her older brother Executor died two years ago. The Will also lists my cousin as the alternative Executor, but my cousin lives in California, wisely won’t travel while Covid is still around, and says she’ll decline to be Executor. There is no one else listed in the Will as Executor, but the Will does divide up my aunt’s sizeable estate among various nieces and nephews who all desire to get their inheritance. As the only family member nearby, is there a…
Dear Mr. Premack: My mother wrote a Will many years ago when I was married to my first wife Beverly. We’d been married more than 20 years at the time, and my mother said in the Will that my wife should get a share of the estate. But we got divorced a few years later, and I’m married now to Diana. Mom died in late 2020, and we’re having an argument over whether that share goes to Beverly or to Diana. I think because it says my “wife” gets the share and Diana is my wife now, Beverly should not…
Dear Mr. Premack: In early 2019, when my dad was still walking and thinking clearly, we went to see an attorney in a small town near San Antonio. My dad has land, accounts, a homestead, etc. He is not married, and I am the only living relative. The attorney told us my dad should not do a will because as the only heir, Texas law says I will inherit without paying for or going to probate, to just save our money. The attorney said that no will means no probate means we save money. The lawyer also said we did…
The IRS has announced that, as part of the disaster response following the February deep freeze in Texas, various tax deadlines have been extended. Texans will not be required to file their 2020 1040 tax returns until June 15, 2021. The IRS announcement states: “… affected individuals and businesses will have until June 15, 2021, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes 2020 individual and business returns normally due on April 15, as well as various 2020 business returns due on March 15. Among other things, this also means that affected…
This column first appeared in the San Antonio Express News and other Hearst Newspapers on February 9, 2021. Dear Mr. Premack: My wife and I have a Revocable Living Trust. The lawyer who wrote it for us asked if we wanted the trust terms to say that when one of us dies the trust can no longer be changed, so the survivor cannot modify who gets what. We had a disagreement over that decision, but ultimately said the survivor should be able to change the trust after one of us dies. I have two children from my first marriage, and…
This column first appeared in the San Antonio Express News and other Hearst Newspapers on January 29, 2021. Dear Mr. Premack: The legislature has come back into session, and I’ve read about the proposal for a referendum on secession of Texas from the US. I think it is an unpatriotic, insurrectionist idea and I cannot believe that any proud American who lives in Texas would support the concept. My emotions aside, can you tell us what the law is about secession, and whether this seditious idea is even legally tenable? – P.A. State Representative Kyle Biederman (R-Fredericksburg) has filed HB…