If you look at an anatomy text from the 18th century you will find that the human body has not changed much in the last 300 years. If you look at a legal text from that period, it will be of little use in guiding you in the 21st century. Every year, either legislation or the interpretation of the law by the courts makes changes to the law. This past year is no exception in the field of Estate Planning and Probate Law.
The question of who will be considered family and who will be considered adverse has been impacted. It has been the law that, former spouses and their family cannot be beneficiaries under a will drafted prior to divorce, nor can they serve as executors, administrators, trustees, or agents. Now, under Estates Code Section 123.151(b) an ex-spouse and their relatives will not receive funds from a joint account with survivorship rights. The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act of the Texas Property Code Chapter 23A changed the law so that under certain circumstances, a co-heir may adversely possess property owned by the other co-heirs. Further, the court in Dampier v. Williams held that an adult cannot be adopted by estoppel. The Legislature made changes to Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Powers of Attorney.
So, now what? Well, there is a possibility that none of these changes impact you in any way. Do not freak, thinking that your powers of attorney have been rendered void because of a change in the statute. However, do not assume that old documents, out of state documents, downloaded or copied from a friend’s documents, will work when you need them most. The prudent course of action is to review your documents every few years or in case of a major life change; birth, death, disability, divorce, etc.
Do you know a major law firm where the head of the Estate Planning and Probate Section will personally handle your case? We do! Mr. Bailey (817) 359-7001.