Texas residents might be familiar with Jefferey Epstein after his alleged connections to sex trafficking made national news. The financier's suicide Aug. 10 is not the end of the story. The 66-year-old's estate may be worth more than $577 million, and many people are interested in what the next steps are when it comes to distributing his estate.
Some Texas fans of singer Aretha Franklin may be aware that her family has been fighting over her estate. Franklin had four sons, but her niece has been acting as executor.
Star Wars fans in Texas might be interested in learning about the estate of Carrie Fisher, the late actress who played Princess Leia in the series. Fisher, who died at age 60 in December 2016, left some relatively specific estate planning instructions. According to news reports, she asked in her will that her estate should be placed in the Carrie Fisher Living Trust, which has her 26-year-old daughter named as its beneficiary.
When a Texas resident creates a will, its terms determine how some or all of a person's assets are distributed upon his or her death. Although John Singleton had a will, it was created in 1993 and was not updated once it was executed. At that time, only one of Singleton's six children was alive and included in the will. Therefore, his other siblings could potentially be denied a share of their father's assets.
Being appointed the executor of a will brings many responsibilities. Texas residents who are appointed as executors often need to secure the will holder's home and other assets, notify beneficiaries, probate the will and file estate and income tax returns. Attorneys and financial advisors can help executors of wills with many of these tasks.
In some cases, after a person's death in Texas, the will can be challenged. The person who files that challenge is also responsible for making sure that all "interested parties" are notified. This is because all interested parties must have the opportunity to participate in litigation if they choose to do so.
Texas residents who are creating a will also need to choose an executor. The executor is the person who deals with paying bills, finding and distributing assets and other tasks associated with managing the estate. Therefore, it is important to choose the right person for this role.
For a lot of estate planners in Texas, one of the primary goals is to avoid probate as much as possible, or for as many assets as possible. According to some experts, however, it's more important to approach probate correctly than to avoid it altogether. In cases where a person dies intestate, or without a will, an administrator is appointed by the probate court to manage the distribution of assets.
Those in Texas who are named estate executors or administrators might wonder what their duties are. An executor is responsible for paying taxes and debts, identifying assets and distributing those assets to beneficiaries. There may be other duties as well. The tasks can be daunting, but an executor is permitted to work with an attorney or other professionals if necessary.
Many people in Texas expect to inherit money from their families at some point. In Milwaukee, a family sued in probate court over a $1.6 million inheritance that had been left to the financial adviser of a deceased millionaire. The family was awarded most of the inheritance in a settlement, leaving the financial adviser with only about $150,000, enough to cover her court costs and attorney fees.