Latest & Greatest – Make Your Own Living Trust

By Denis Clifford  Published by Nolo  KF 734 .Z9 C57 2019  Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

By Denis Clifford

Published by Nolo

KF 734 .Z9 C57 2019

Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

If you’re seeking a way to dispose of your property after your death without your heirs and beneficiaries having to go through the legal process known as probate, then a living trust might be the mechanism through which you can achieve that goal. A living trust, or an inter vivos trust, transfers property designated under the trust to your loved ones upon your death without the need for probate. Sound appealing? Then, you might want to have a look at Nolo’s Make Your Own Living Trust. Denis Clifford, an estate planning attorney, explains what a living trust is, how it works, and what its advantages and potential downsides are. With this book, you can also learn how to:

  • determine the type of trust that is right for you;

  • choose what property to place into the trust;

  • choose a successor trustee and designate beneficiaries;

  • prepare the living trust document; and

  • transfer property to the trust.

There are also plenty of sample forms to help draft your living trust and a glossary to help explain some key terms.

Before you embark on this estate-planning tool, read Make Your Own Living Trust. Find it in the Law Library’s Self-Help Collection. Other titles that you might find useful on this and similar topics are: Estate Planning Basics, Plan Your Estate, and Quick and Legal Will Book.

Wills and Probate Resource Month - October 2018

Wills and Probate Resources Book Graphic 2018.png

October is Wills and Probate Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. All month long, you will find materials on wills, estate planning, and probate and trust administration on display in the Law Library and online.

Self-Help Guides from Nolo Press

Nolo’s Plan Your Estate is your go-to estate planning guide. With coverage of common estate planning goals, such as leaving property, providing for minors, planning for incapacity, avoiding probate, and reducing the estate tax, it is a go-to source for easy-to-understand estate planning information. Another useful Nolo resource is Estate Planning Basics. Both of these Nolo titles can be found in our Self-Help Collection in the Law Library. For assistance in finding these guides, please ask a member of the reference staff.

TexasLawHelp Wills & Estate Planning is an incredibly useful online legal research tool for the general public. Take a look at their Wills & Estate Planning resources for information about filing a small estate affidavit, a transfer on death deed, or an affidavit of heirship. Also find a link to the Texas Probate Passport, a publication of the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association.

Harris County Law Library Research Guides

Visit our Research Guides page to download a free copy of our Probate, Trusts, and Estates Research Guide. This topical guide helps you quickly find the most practical resources available at the Law Library, including the Texas Probate System, a State Bar of Texas publication, and O’Connor’s Texas Probate Law Handbook (both of which are pictured above).Ask for these and other titles at the Law Library reference desk.

Latest & Greatest – Wills Road Map: Practical Considerations in Will Drafting

By Steve Akers, Bernard E. Jones, and R.J. Watts, II  Published by State Bar of Texas (Texas Bar Books)  KFT 1344 .A94 2017

By Steve Akers, Bernard E. Jones, and R.J. Watts, II

Published by State Bar of Texas (Texas Bar Books)

KFT 1344 .A94 2017

Continuing with Wills and Probate Law Resource Month, the Harris County Law Library is pleased to have available the new edition of Wills Road Map: Practical Considerations in Will Drafting. Now in its third edition, Wills Road Map outlines the fundamental concepts that attorneys need to consider when preparing a will and when upholding the validity of such will. The authors begin with a discussion of the basic requirements of a will, including those that are statutorily-mandated and those that have been derived from years of case law. They provide examples of some specific will provisions and their purposes, including those that identify the testator, his/her family, and the property being disposed under the will, and some other miscellaneous provisions, such as definitions, in terrorem clauses, and the attestation clause. The authors also provide some insight into the substantive laws that affect the disposition of assets under a will, such as those regarding extraneous references and integration, and legal doctrines that may affect specific bequests, such as ademption and abatement. They round out their discussion of practical considerations by addressing trust planning, fiduciary powers and trust administration, and revocation of a will.

With both the general practitioner and the wills and estate planning specialist in mind, the authors have prepared a guide that not only covers the law surrounding the preparation and execution of wills but also the practical aspects in drafting them. In the appendixes, you can find a checklist for will review, client information questionnaires, and some samples of basic will forms. Next time, you are visiting the Harris County Law Library, have a look at Wills Road Map: Practical Considerations in Will Drafting. Just ask for it at the Reference Desk.

Access to Justice – Transfer on Death Deed

Chapter 114 of the Texas Estates Code authorizes an owner of real property to designate a beneficiary to whom that property will pass upon the owner’s death. This process alleviates the expense that the beneficiary would otherwise have had to bear if the property had passed through the probate process. This alternative to probate is called a transfer on death deed. Executed by the property owner during his lifetime, the deed is a non-testamentary instrument that is freely revocable should the property owner change his mind regarding the primary or alternate beneficiaries named in the deed. To be effective, the transfer on death deed must state that the transfer of real property is to occur at the property owner’s death and must be recorded with the county clerk in the county in which the property is located prior to the death of the transferor. Once the deed is in effect, a will may not supersede the validly executed deed. In other words, if a will names a different individual as beneficiary, the property will go to the individual designated in the transfer on death deed, not the one named in the will. has a packet on its website with information about and instructions and forms for the transfer on death deeds. There are links to forms and instructions for property owners who want to transfer real property using the transfer on death deed, for property owners who want to revoke a prior transfer on death deed, and for beneficiaries who want to know what needs to be done to acquire title to the property named in the deed.

There are more alternatives to probate that have been proposed. There are two bills before the current legislative session (SB 869 and HB 1753) that, if passed, would enable an owner to transfer his interest in a vehicle to a designated beneficiary, thereby allowing the vehicle to pass outside of probate. The Texas Access to Justice Commission, one of the champions of the need for low-income Texans to have equal access to the civil judicial system, is supporting this legislation.

Latest & Greatest – Davis’s Texas Estate Planning Forms 2017

By Mickey R. Davis  Published by O’Connor’s  KFT 1340 .A65 D38

By Mickey R. Davis

Published by O’Connor’s

KFT 1340 .A65 D38

The Harris County Law Library is pleased to have a new addition to its collection of books from that trusted and reliable publisher, O’Connor’s: Davis’s Texas Estate Planning Forms 2017. This new resource, designed to assist in the drafting of wills and the providing of estate planning services to clients, contains a myriad of forms that can be adapted to fit your client’s situation. There is an entire chapter devoted to advanced directives and powers of attorney and an extensive sampling of various types of wills based upon marital status and the need for tax planning. You can also find provisions and clauses for specific testamentary gifts, administrative issues, and the payment of expenses and debts. There are also examples of simple wills that are good for those whose estates are a bit simpler and require little or no additional estate planning. Moreover, there is a chapter dedicated to trusts, including irrevocable gift trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and charitable trusts . Like the library’s other Texas resources from O’Connor’s, the forms contained in this book can be found on O’Connor’s Online here at the law library.