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Wills, trusts, and estates

The law of wills, trusts, and estates includes the many legal issues related to a person’s directions for what should be done with their assets or property at their death (a will); for creating a legal entity (a trust) in which the assets of a person known as the trustor, grantor, or settlor are placed and held by a trustee (person or entity) for the benefit of named persons or classifications of persons (descendants); and to a deceased person’s real and personal property at the time of death (estate).

In Texas, the law of wills, trusts, and estates is governed by the Texas Estates Code. A will is a legal document that allows a person to direct the distribution of their assets upon their death. In Texas, for a will to be valid, it must be in writing, signed by the testator (or another person at their direction and in their presence), and attested by two or more credible witnesses who are at least 14 years old. Trusts in Texas can be created during a person's lifetime (living trusts) or at their death through a will (testamentary trusts). Trusts are managed by a trustee for the benefit of the trust's beneficiaries as specified by the trustor. The estate of a deceased person includes all their real and personal property at the time of death. The Texas Estates Code outlines the process for estate administration, whether the person died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). The probate process includes validating the will, appointing an executor or administrator, inventorying the estate's assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. If there is no will, Texas law provides a scheme of distribution based on kinship. It is advisable to consult with an attorney for specific guidance on wills, trusts, and estate planning or administration.

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