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Denton Criminal Defense Law Blog

Alternatives to Probate-The Small Estate Affidavit

A Small Estate Affidavit is used to collect a small amount of money owed to the estate, including a small amount of money in a bank account. A Small Estate Affidavit may also be used to transfer title to real property which still qualifies as a homestead upon the Death of the decedent rather than going through the probate process. In order for the court to approve such an Affidavit, the following requirements must be met:

Alternatives to Probate - The Transfer on Death Deed

Passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015, House Bill 462 allows owners of real estate to transfer their interest to heirs outside of going through the probate process, similar to a beneficiary designation on a bank account or insurance policy. You can name both a primary and contingent beneficiary. In order for the Transfer on Death Deed to be effective, the deed must:

Alternatives to Probate - The Lady Bird Deed

A Lady Bird Deed, also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, is a good probate alternative when you want to leave property to someone after you pass away, but want to retain ownership throughout your lifetime. It is an inexpensive probate alternative for real estate. The beneficiary does not get any rights until you pass away. It is commonly used in Texas because you do not need the beneficiaries consent to convey, sell, or mortgage the property.

Why You Need a Will - Simultaneous Death

In many cases, the testator dies before the beneficiary. In fact, the Estates Code, which governs probate law in Texas, presumes that the testator and a beneficiary will not pass away close together in time. However, that is not always the case. In tragic situations, a beneficiary to a will may pass away within a short period of time from the testator, known as Simultaneous Death in the Texas Estates Code.

Texas Child Possession Orders - Standard, Expanded and Customized

The Texas Family Code in §153.312 sets out a "Standard Possession Order" for parents living within 100 miles of each other. This is often the starting point for most divorcing couples and unfortunately the ending point for too many. Many do not know that If the parent not having the primary possession of the child wants additional time, that parent can elect an Expanded Possession Order at the time the order is rendered. The Standard Possession Order provides for visitation beginning at 6:00 pm on Fridays and ending at 6:00 pm on the following Sunday on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of each month. This weekend schedule, along with the holiday and summer schedules within statute allow about 91 overnight visits. The Standard order also allows for two hours on Thursdays during the school year.

There is an optional Expanded Possession Order. The authority for this order is §153.317 of the Texas Family Code. This Expanded Possession Order must be entered upon the request of the possessory conservator unless the judge finds that the Expanded Possession Order is not in the best interest of the child. Under this order the weekend period begins when school lets out on Friday rather than at 6:00 pm. The period ends when school starts on Mondays rather than at 6:00 pm on Sunday. Thursdays are increased from two hours to when school dismisses on Thursdays until school starts on Friday morning. Other holiday schedules are increased to beginning and ending when school ends and starts. This election adds approximately 19 Sunday evenings and 35 Thursday nights, increasing the total number of overnights with the child to about 145. The exact number of days will vary due to the school schedule and how weekends fall during any year.

There are a number of other options that can be crafted outside of the standard or expanded orders. The court can approve any schedule that the parties agree with. These may include a "fireman's schedule", a 50/50 schedule (such as alternating weeks), a graduated schedule for children under 3 years old, or other such customized order when a one parent may not work a traditional Monday through Friday work week. A family law attorney can help you craft an order that provides for the minimum disruption to the child's and parents' schedules.

Hiding Your Criminal Record - Criminal Expunction

If you've ever been arrested for a crime, but not charged with a crime, you might wonder what happens to your criminal record. The arrest will still show up on your criminal record. Having a criminal record may keep you from your goals: family, career, and housing.

Hiding Your Criminal Record - Criminal Non Disclosure

If you have ever been placed on deferred adjudication for a criminal offense, such a Felony or Misdemeanor A or B, you may be eligible for a non-disclosure. Many District Attorneys' offices in Texas offer deferred adjudication in exchange for a no contest (nolo contendere) or not guilty plea in Texas. Terms vary depending on the crime, but if you are placed on deferred adjudication, it means the charges will be postponed for a certain period of time in exchange for you meeting certain conditions.

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