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Will and Probate Law

The Attorney for Students can assist you with drafting simple wills, power of attorney, HIPPA releases, medical directives and other important contingency documents.

Our office--including attorneys and all of our office staff--is bound by the duty of confidentiality and attorney client privilege. Any communication you make with our office, including phone calls, emails, and virtual or in-person meetings, are protected and privileged. he Attorney for Students (AFS) Office offers legal services to all currently enrolled Texas State University students. There is NO additional cost for legal services. All case information is protected by attorney-client privilege and is treated confidentially by all AFS staff.

To make an appointment with an attorney, call our office at (512) 245-2370. Be sure to have your student ID # (ex: A01234567) available to schedule an appointment.

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  • FAQs

    • In its basic form, a Will is simply a piece of paper with written instructions about how a person wishes their property to be distributed when they die. It can be as simple or as complex as a person wishes it to be. It is not always necessary to have an attorney draft your Will; however, most online do-it-yourself Will kits are not legal in Texas because they lack critical elements. It is always safest to check with a attorney and make certain that your final wishes are in place.

    • It depends. The To Will or Not To Will guide by the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) will help you understand why you may want a will.

    • In addition to disposing of your possession, a Will can be a final message to family and friends, and can notify loved ones of other assets that may exist like life insurance.  Without a Will, your family may be forced to spend hundreds of dollars changing the name on a car title or bank account.

    • Probate is the name given to describe the legal process of having a Will recognized by a court and powers bestowed upon the Executor of the Will.  The Executor is a person named by the deceased to carry out the terms of the will, it is usually a spouse or family member, but does not have to be.  The Executor is responsible for filing the Will in court to start probate, asking for a letter of authority from the court, transferring property and car titles to the heirs, paying any funeral expenses and distributing cash or personal possession to the heirs.

    • If a person dies without leaving a Will, they are said to have died intestate.  If they were married and had no children by another person, their spouse inherits everything.  If, however, the deceased had a child by another marriage, the remaining spouse and that child inherit EQUALLY.  This can have very serious consequences for non-traditional families.

      Example:  Tom has a son from his first marriage.  Tom remarried and has three children with his spouse.  Tom dies without leaving a Will.  Tom's spouse and three children inherit EQUALLY to his son from his first marriage.  His wife and three children will get 50% of Tom's assets and his son will get the other 50%.  It does not matter if Tom hasn't spoken to that son in decades or if that son has refused to have anything to do with Tom.  Without a Will, the Texas intestate laws will apply and Tom's property will be evenly divided.

    • Also known as a "Directive to Physicians," a living will indicates to hospital workers and loved ones what decision to make if you are on life support.  There are two basic decisions:

      1. what do you want done if you body systems are functioning, but your brain may not be and,
      2. what do you want done if your brain may be functioning, but your body cannot support itself without constant care.

FORMS

Power of Attorney (POA)

You can have a POA to authorize another person to make financial and legal decisions immediately or in the future. A POA can be used to give someone a one-time power (e.g., cash a check in your name) or give someone indefinite powers (e.g., authorize a partner to open or close bank accounts).

Power of Attorney (PDF, 17 KB)

Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

You can use an MPOA to authorize another person to make medical decision on your behalf immediately or in the future.  This includes decisions related to your treatment, care and insurance.

Medical Power Of Attorney : Medical Power of Attorney (PDF, 12 KB)

Directive to Physicians

A directive to physicians is also known as a Living Will.  This document states your wishes about what happens to you in two specific situations.

  1. If you body is functioning but your brain waves do not show any activity.
  2. If your brain is functioning but your body needs ventilators to stay alive.

Definitions & Common Terms

Administrator: The person named by the court to represent a probate estate when there is no will or executor.

Assets: Anything you own, including your home, furniture, jewelry, clothing, collections, bank accounts, and life insurance.

Beneficiaries: The people named in a will or determined by the court if there is no will, who will receive assets from the decedent’s estate.

Community Property: Any asset a husband and wife acquired during the marriage, with certain exceptions, such as those assets acquired through inheritance, gift, or before the marriage. Each spouse is entitled to half of the community property.

Deceased: The loved one who has passed away and left a Will.

Estate: Assets and debts left by an individual at death.

Executor: The person chosen by the deceased to follow the Will’s instructions.

Heirs: Family members of the deceased and/or people given things in the Will.

Holographic Will: A Will written entirely in your own handwriting. There are specific requirements for holographic wills in Texas, but if done correctly, they can be valid and legally enforced.

Intestate: The legal word used to describe people who die without a Will. The opposite of testate.

Intestate Succession: Flowchart of inheritance created by Texas law to decide who gets what if no Will existed.

Living Will: Indicates to hospital workers and loved ones what decision to make if you are on life support.

Probate: The legal process of validating a will, paying debts, and distributing assets after death.

Testate: The legal word used to describe people who die with a valid Will. The opposite of intestate.

Trust: Special type of account created by a Will to hold money or property on behalf of someone else.

Trustee: Title given to someone who may be put in charge of the money or property for someone else. A common Trustee situation arises when underage children inherit large sums of money from relatives. Example: John left his 10-year-old niece $15,000 to be held in trust until she turns 21. The child’s mother is named Trustee of the account and must guard the money until her child turns 21.

Will: A legal document created prior to death by the deceased with instructions about how to dissolve/distribute/donate any items, money, or property owned by the deceased.

Helpful Links

"When There's No Will" Guide

Provides an overview of what happens when someone dies without a will and the benefits of creating a will.

Holographic Wills in Texas

This guide provides the law on handwriting your own will in Texas.

Texas Probate Forms for Consumers

Provides sample forms for disability planning personal records.

Texas Living Wills

Provides sample forms of living wills (directives to physicians and family).

The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys

The AAEPA is a national organization of attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on wills, trusts, and estates.

Texas Probate Passport

The Texas Young Lawyers Association created the “Texas Probate Passport” as a resources detailing the probate process.

Estate Tax

The IRS’s database of the information about estate tax issues.