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Top 5 Reasons to Review or Update Your Estate Plan/Will

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We highly recommend each adult resident in Texas have at least a simple will and probably an estate plan. It is imperative to review your plan at every major life event for you, family members, and anyone named in the estate planning documents.

1. You do not have an estate plan or Will

If you do not have an estate plan or Will, or you created your own that has not been reviewed by an attorney, you need to meet with an attorney. It is significantly more costly to administer an estate without a Will than with a Will, in Texas.

Just as important is to ensure you have financial planning and healthcare planning documents in place in case of an emergency or healthcare issue.

Talk to your local estate planning lawyer to make sure you and your family are covered in case of an emergency.

2. You were recently married – Congrats!!

If you were married for the first time, or this is a subsequent marriage, it is imperative to check your Will and your post death planning to make sure you and your spouse are covered. You cannot will away your new spouse’s share of community property without specific written permission from your spouse in a prenuptial agreement or post marital agreement. Failing to protect your spouse’s rights in your estate may lead to expensive litigation.

If this is a subsequent marriage or if you have children from a different relationship, it is key to talk to an estate planning attorney to decrease the likelihood of future litigation within your family.

3. You were recently divorced

If you were recently divorced – or divorced at all since your prior look at estate planning, it is time to look again. This really could be an entire section of its own.  We have an article with more in depth information regarding dealing with property, assets and liabilities during a divorce that can be found here.
1. Make sure all of the loose ends are tied at the end of your divorce. (Property is adequately transferred, titles are transferred, designated beneficiaries are changed, etc.).
2. Look at your existing estate plan and think about all the places that list your spouse – executor (to manage your estate), beneficiary (to receive your estate), trustee (to manage the estate for the benefit of another – maybe a minor child), etc. You likely want to change most or all of these. Consider adding successor or back up people to manage your estate and to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so.

4. You had or adopted a child

This will change the outlook of your estate plan. You want to make sure your child or children are cared for after your death. This becomes more important if your kids are minors. It becomes more difficult with blended families. In any situation, having a child or adopting a child is a great reason to review your estate plan.

Something people fail to consider is when people named as guardian in their estate planning documents has children. This is a big deal and to be considered. If I want my single sister to take my 2 kids if something happens to me and my husband, I can include that in my estate planning documents. If, then, my sister adopts infant twins, is she capable and ready to take on the responsibility of my 2 kids? Definitely worth thinking about.

5. Something happened to someone in your family or someone named in your estate plan

In our estate planning documents, we name executors to manage our estates; we name beneficiaries to inherit our assets; and we name agents to take care of our needs if we become incapacitated. If such an executor, trustee, agent, etc. marries, divorces, has children, goes to college, goes through bankruptcy, moves, or has any other major life events, it is time to review your estate planning documents to make sure all such documents still fit your needs.

Top 5 Things to Know About Child Custody Holiday Visitation Schedules in Texas

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  1. Most Possession Schedules Permit (and Courts Encourage) Agreements to Modify the Holiday Visitation. While the specific language in your order controls, check out your order to see if this applies to your case. Most possession schedules permit you to exercise ANY periods of possession by mutual agreement. Do you hate that one parent gets the entire Thanksgiving break? Try working with the other parent to divide up that week to establish Thanksgiving times for each parent that benefits the child most.  Maybe switch days and offer some make up time. With visitation, really anything goes as long as it is good for your family and agreed by the parents.With that being said, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get those agreements that change your written possession schedule IN WRITING (text or email is fine). Also understand that you are relying on the other person’s word to keep these agreements. If one parent decides to renege on the agreement at the last minute, you are unfortunately stuck with following the possession schedule in the child custody order, as the written court order is the order that is enforceable.  Of course, if you have questions or need advice, contact your local family law attorney.
  2. A Typical Holiday Possession Schedule Alternates Each Major School Break (regardless of virtual, face to face, or other schooling options). Pursuant to the Standard Possession Order, the holiday possession schedule typically follows the below schedule: 
    Custodial Parent Years Non-Custodial Parent Years
    Spring Break Odd Spring Break Even
    Thanksgiving Even Thanksgiving Odd
    First Half of Christmas Odd First Half of Christmas Even
    Second Half of Christmas Even Second Half of Christmas Odd

    Per the Standard Possession Order, the Christmas or winter holiday is broken down into the First Half of Christmas, which begins when the child is released from school for Christmas and ends at noon on December 28, and the Second Half of Christmas, which begins at noon on December 28 and ends on the Sunday prior to the child returning to school. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also included to give the respective parents time with the children on those days. Many orders also include terms for birthdays of the children. The Standard Possession Order entitles the parent in possession for Spring Break and Thanksgiving possession as beginning the Friday beginning the break and ending the Sunday following the break, for almost 9 full days for each such holiday. Any other Holidays that you want to include and delineate specific possession times have to be specifically requested before the Judge or agreed upon between the parties. If those holidays are not included in your order, you are able and encouraged to try to work between the parents to written agreements regarding those additional holidays.

  3. If Your Holiday Possession Schedule is Not Working, You Can File a Modification. Do you think your current holiday possession schedule is not in the best interest of the child? Have the circumstances in your family or the other parent’s family materially and substantially changed since the prior order was entered, which you believe warrants a change in your possession schedule? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you are entitled to file a Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship to address any issues that affect the children. The best way to determine whether filing a Modification is your correct next step is to contact a family law attorney with experience in these matters. The family lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen are working and ready to take your call.
  4. If the Other Parent Refuses to Follow the Holiday Possession Schedule, You can File an Enforcement. Are you having difficulty getting the other parent to properly follow the possession schedule? Do they refuse to do what is required of them under your Child Custody Order? If so, you are entitled to file a Motion for Enforcement, which asks the Court to order the other parent to follow the Custody Order and can include penalty for the parent refusing to follow the Order (this could be monetary fines, jail time, make up time, etc.). The best way to determine whether filing an Enforcement is your correct next step is to contact a family law attorney with experience in these matters. The family lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen are working and ready to take your call.
  5. THE FAMILY LAWYERS AT HANSHAW KENNEDY HAFEN ARE OFFERING FREE CONSULTATIONS THROUGH THE HOLIDAY SEASON! Are you experiencing any of the difficulties described above with your co-parent? As their holiday gift to you, the family law attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP are offering FREE consultations through January 1, 2021. Give us a call to determine the best way to protect your children’s best interest and deal with a difficult co-parent. We offer in-person, virtual, or over-the-phone consultations, and we are able to initiate your case ASAP even in light of COVID-19.*

*The Family Lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP are able to advise on issues related to COVID-19 and visitation with the children. Pursuant to the Twenty-Ninth Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster, possession of and access to a child shall not be affected by any shelter-in-place order or other order restricting movement that arises from the pandemic. The original published school schedule still controls, and possession and access shall not be affected by the school’s closure that arises from the pandemic. The full Emergency Order can be found by clicking HERE

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Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen Family Law

1415 Legacy Drive, Suite 350
Frisco, TX 75034
Phone: 972-731-6500
Fax: 972-731-6555

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