Frequently Asked Questions About Wills In Amarillo Texas

 

Planning ahead is always a good idea.  Creating a will is one of those planning tools that each of us should take the time to prepare.  There are many questions that arise when preparing a will.  Here are some examples of frequently asked questions and their answers about wills.  Take the time to go over these before meeting with an Amarillo Attorney or attempting to create a will using an online source.

 

How much does a will cost?

 

For most individuals, a simple inexpensive will is sufficient.  In 2017, Cornett Law Firm is doing simple wills for $100 each.  Sometimes a more complicated will is necessary and we will advise you if something other than a simple will is necessary.

 

If you have a living spouse and adult children than in most cases a simple will is all you need, provided the value of your estate is under $5,450.000 in 2017.

 

If you have minor children you may want to create a trust for your minor children at which time you would appoint someone as trustee to manage the affairs of the minor children in case you are unable to manage the assets for the child or if you are deceased.  It is wise to  appoint someone as your trustee who has good judgment in managing financial affairs (and would have the interest of your children in mind).  Most children are not prepared to properly manage large sums of money when they reach 18 years of age.   If you create a trust in your will your trustee can continue to manage the assets for the children until the time the children reach 18 years of age (or later if your will specifies).  You can require the trustee to distribute all the assets from the trust when your child reaches a specific age.   You set the age of the child based upon your determination of when the child should be able to manage his own financial affairs.  At that time you specify in your will, the trustee will be required to distribute the trust assets to the children. If you feel your spouse or children will never be able to manage their own financial affairs you may have the trustee manage their financial affairs for the duration of your spouse’s or your children’s lifetime.

 

What is a trustee?

 

A Trustee is a person appointed in a trust to manage the affairs of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  Typically a person  creates a trust for the benefit of their spouse, children or both. The person creating the trust names a person, bank or institution to manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

 

What is an executor?

 

An executor is a male named in a will who is authorized by the probate court to act on behalf of an estate.  The executor is required to safeguard the assets of the estate, pay the legitimate debts owed by the estate according to the law and see that any remaining assets in the estate are paid to the beneficiaries according to the will.  The executor must file a sworn inventory listing the assets of the estate within 90 days after the executor is appointed.

 

What is an executrix?

 

An executrix is a female named in a will who is authorized by the probate court to act on behalf of an estate.  The executrix is required to safeguard the assets of the estate, pay the legitimate debts owed by the estate according to the law and see that any remaining assets in the estate are paid to the beneficiaries according to the will.

 

What amount should an executor or executrix be paid?

 

A will usually specifies whether or not an executor or executrix is paid for their service.  If the will states that the executor or executrix should not be paid then that request will be enforced.  If the will says the executor or executrix is to be paid or is silent about the payment the amount that is paid is governed by  Texas Estates Code Section 352.002.  Executors, administrators, and temporary administrators shall be entitled to receive a commission of five per cent (5%) on all sums they may actually receive in cash in the administration of the estate, and the same per cent on all sums they may actually payout in cash, in the administration of the estate on a finding by the court that the executor or administrator has taken care of and managed the estate in compliance with the standards of this code.

 

In what order are debts of an estate paid?

 

Texas Estates Code Section 355.102 sets the priority of payment of debts owed by the estate. If the estate owes debts, the state of Texas has a statute prescribing the order that various classes of creditors are paid.  The class of creditors who are paid first include the expenses of administration of the estate.  It includes payment of the funeral bills the medical bills of the last illness;, the attorney fees of the probate of the estate and the cost of probating the estate including court cost & fee, etc. The next level of creditors to be paid include payment of taxes, The third level of creditors are the secured creditors (people who have liens against property belonging to the estate). The last group of creditors are the unsecured creditors.  Unsecured creditors include credit card companies, open accounts with vendors or suppliers and any other creditors of the estate.  All creditors in each level are paid pro rata with other creditors in the same level.  For instance there are two creditors in the same level and one is owed $1000 and the other is owed $3000, but there is only $2000 left in the estate.  Each creditor is paid 50% of the amount owed by the estate.  For instance the first creditor who is owed $1000 is paid 50% for a total of $500.  The second creditor who is owed $3000 is also paid 50% for a total of $1500.

 

Claims against an estate are required to be paid in the following order:

 

  1. Funeral Expenses and expenses of last illness not to exceed a total of Fifteen Thousand Dollars
  2. Expenses of administration including attorney fees
  3. Secured claims including tax liens
  4. Claims for child support
  5. Claims for taxes, penalties and interest
  6. Claims for the cost of confinement by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  7. Claims for repayment of medical assistance payments made by the state to or for the benefit of the decedent.
  8. All other claims

 

Any funds left in the estate after all debts have been paid will be distributed to the heirs named in the will.

 

Exemptions from Federal Estate Taxes

 

For 2017, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual, up from $5.45 million in 2016. That means an individual can leave $5.49 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax.   (Certain gifts made during a person’s lifetime may be included in the value of the estate in some cases).   Most estates are exempt from payment of Federal Estate Taxes.

 

Does a will always have to be probated?

 

If a person dies with a will & has no debts and owns no real estate and there are no disagreement among the heirs then the will does not need to be probated.

 

Put Cornett Law Firm’s 43 years of experience to work for you

 

Stop and take a breath and call an Amarillo attorney who has had decades of experience preparing wills and filing for probate in the state of Texas.  Pick up the phone and call Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett.  Bill is your choice as an experienced will and probate attorney in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.  Don’t waste another minute.  Call him today.

 

Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney, with Cornett Law Firm offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer, probate attorney, family law attorney, criminal law attorney, DWI attorney, family law attorney and divorce attorney. attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.

 

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Bill Cornett

 

Bill Cornett grew up on a farm in Knox City, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. After being licensed to practice law in the State of Texas in 1973.

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