Types of Wills in Texas

Barrera Law Firm Wills and Probate Services
The Barrera Law Firm can assist you with creating a will
No one likes to think about what will happen when death comes to them. However, legal planning is necessary so that in this event friends and family members will be able to make sure your wishes are followed. There are several types of wills that can be created, and depending on your financial portfolio and the depth to which you want to control how your estate is treated at the time of your death.

Wills

A will, as defined by Law, is a legal declaration in which a person, or a couple, names those they wish to transfer their property to at the time of their death. Wills can be written by an individual as long as they are over the age of majority and of sound mind. The age of majority is defined as over the age of 18 in America. Sound mind simply means that a person is rational when they create the will, or not clinically defined as insane or incompetent. Typically, however, an attorney is used to create a will. There are several laws that exist, different from state to state, that define rules regarding wills. For example, in community property state, a surviving spouse cannot be left out of a will. Using an attorney to create a will ensures that it is completely legal and that upon your death, your wishes will be carried out just as you dictate.

Living Wills

Living wills are those that a person creates to make known their wishes regarding life support and medical treatments in the case that they are left incapacitated and unable to make their wishes known. If you are involved in an automobile accident that leaves you in a coma and hooked up to life support, if you do not have a living will, your relatives will have to make the decision of whether to leave you hooked up to life support indefinitely or allow you to pass on without it. This can be an emotionally devastating decision for family members to make, and knowing your wishes through a living will makes the decision simpler and ensures your wishes are followed even though you cannot express them physically at the time.

Living Trusts

A living trust is actually a mechanism that is used to hold and distribute a persons assets in order to avoid probate. A probate is a function of wills that involves a third party inventorying and appraising the property, and they paying debts and taxes accrued before distributing what is left over from the estate to the surviving family members. A living trust allows the entire state to be transferred to your surviving family at the time of your death without having to use a probate.

Advanced Planning

Advanced planning is the creation of a course of action, which you set down in legal form, in the case that you become ill and unable to plan for yourself. Some of the areas covered under advanced planning include estate tax planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, planning for disabled or problem beneficiaries and creating a family or charitable legacy.

Geographic Restrictions Relating to the Primary Residence of Children in Texas

Can you stop the other parent of your children from moving?

Geographic restrictions in Texas is a subject of intense legal debate. It’s a case-by-case issue that depends on many factors.

Here are some factors the court may consider:

1) Is there a consistent and dependable record of visitation and support for the children?

2) Does the other parent take initiative to participate in the child’s education, extracurricular activities and doctor’s appointments?

3) Is the purpose of the move mostly or solely in the interest of the parent and not the children?

4) How far is the move and how would it affect the children?

These are only some of the factors a court would consider. One must always do their due diligence to confer with the other parent about the move.

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation at 956-428-2822

First Step of Preparing Your Criminal Defense: Meeting With Your Lawyer

criminal defense harlingen barrera law firm
Accused of a crime? Be sure you understand your rights, and be prepared. Call The Barrera Law Firm.
Preparing to go to trail in Harlingen, McAllen, Brownsville, or anywhere for that matter, to defend yourself in a criminal defense case is nothing short of nerve racking. You will be fighting for your freedom, and this is a battle that no one wants to lose. Without a good criminal defense lawyer, you could end up getting the book thrown at you, getting slapped with high fines and jail time. Your first meeting with your criminal defense lawyer will set the stage for your defense strategy. Being prepared for that meeting will get your case off to a great start by giving your lawyer a better chance at building a good defense strategy.

  1. Be prepared to answer some questions. Your lawyer is going to need all of the details about what happened. You may want to sit down a few days before your meeting and write down all of the details you remember about what happened to you before, during, and after your arrest. Your lawyer is going to ask you to remember the names and details of all the people involved in your case, their role, what they know and what you think they might know. You will also want to recount all the details you can remember about your arrest. If the arresting officers made mistakes and you can remember them, it may be important to your case.
  2. Have your own questions to ask. You will also want to prepare some questions of your own for your criminal defense lawyer. Ask how long they have been working in criminal defense, if they have had cases similar to your own, and what the outcome was. Ask their opinion on the outcome of your own case, including the best and worse case scenarios. Find out how much their services are going to cost and how they accept payment. Knowing up front all of the details will ensure that there are no surprises later on down the road.
  3. Bring documents and evidence with you. Bring all of the documents associated with your case to the meeting with your criminal defense lawyer. This includes items you feel could be used as evidence, such as letters, photos, emails or other documents. Bring your arrest records, and any paperwork you were given by the police. Your lawyer will be better prepared to build a winning defense strategy for your case if they have all of the evidence needed to back it up.
  4. Listen to your lawyer’s advice. Your lawyer will have some advice for you at the end of the meeting. They may tell you where to go and where to avoid, who to speak with and who to not speak with. Pay attention to their advice and even write it down. Your criminal defense lawyer is familiar with the system and knows what it will take to win your case. Going against their advice could end up costing you in the end if it causes your case to end in a guilty verdict.

How to Get A Court to Punish Violations of Divorce Decrees in Texas

As the holidays approach, many of us look forward to seeing our families and friends, spending time with our children and teaching them the religious and cultural traditions that we grew up with.

Sadly, the enemy of the judicial system shows its ugly head all too often.  That enemy is intentional disregard for court orders.

Intentionally disregarding court orders is a very expensive, embarrassing, and sad situation for the person who decides to be that “enemy.”

Courts can be ruthless if it is proven that someone is intentionally violating court orders.  The consequences of intentional violations can include both financial punishment and/or jail time.

Get a free consultation with The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at (956) 428-2822.

Car Accidents in Brownsville, Harlingen & McAllen: What to Do

Car accident harlingen attorney Barrera
Don’t let a car accident also wreck your life. Call The Barrera Law Firm.

Car accidents are never any fun for anyone involved. In addition to being scary, they usually result in damage to vehicles as well as slight to severe personal injury to those involved. When you are involved in a car accident, whether it is your fault or not, there can be much confusion and slight chaos, as you try to determine what to do next. Having a well thought out plan of what to do when an accident occurs can help you to make decisions on the fly, as long as you are not too injured to do so. Here is a basic list of what should be done when a car accident that results in personal injury occurs.

  1. Pull over out of the flow of traffic. When an accident occurs it may take you a minute to orient yourself. If you are able to move your car to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic, do so immediately. This will help to reduce the risk of another accident occurring. If it is not possible for the car to be moved, then pick up your personal items as best you can and go to the side of the road. It is always possible that during the accident your gas tank may have been punctured, which could lead to an explosion. Moving away from the vehicle is the safest bet, but be sure to take your cell phone, keys and other important belongings.
  2. Call for help. Once you are safely out of the way of further harm, then call either 911 or the police if you have a local number. If you don’t have a cell phone, try to flag down another driver for help. The sooner the accident is reported, the faster officers will show up and get started on your accident report. If you have been injured, be sure and tell the operator so they can send an ambulance as well.
  3. Take out your car accident emergency kit. Many people like to keep a car accident emergency kit in their car’s glove compartment. This kit includes all the numbers you will need in an accident situation, such as the police, ambulance, your doctor and your insurance company. Other items can include a disposable camera for documenting the scene of the accident and the damage to the vehicles involved. It may also include first-aid supplies, such as bandages and gauze. If you have one of these, take it out with you when you exit the car.
  4. Exchange information with the other driver. Exchange car insurance information with the other driver. The police officer will determine who was at fault in the accident and use it to compile his official report. This information, along with the driver’s insurance information, will be needed when you make your insurance claim. You can never document too much information, as insurance companies often require detailed information in order to pay out on claims.

Texas Modification of Custody Orders and Other Orders

 

It is important to know that if your current court order does not work in best interests of your children, it can be changed.

In Texas, you can modify (change) a court order for many reasons.  Here are some examples:

  • More than one year has passed since the judge signed the existing order and there has been a major change that you can prove is detrimental to the children.
  • Less than one year has passed since the judge signed the existing order and there has been a major change that you can prove is detrimental to the children, and you can show (and swear to in an affidavit) there is a danger to their physical and emotional needs.
  • You were laid off of work and you now have a different job or make less money, and have a different work schedule.
  • You can prove the other parent or their spouse is violating the law and the children are at risk of harm.
  • Your child is over 12 years old and has explicitly stated their desire to live with you, without any pressure or persuasion, and you can demonstrate that you will be more active and capable in raising them than the other parent.
  • You are seeking a court order to restrain the other parent from moving out of the county or state.

There are many other scenarios.

Whether it is a divorce decree or a child support order, any order affecting the best interests of the children can be changed, but it must be done right. If it’s done wrongly, you may lose attorney fees and, even worse, your case could be dismissed.

Feel free to call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation today.

Expunctions in Cameron County and Hidalgo County

Texas law provides a second chance for people who wish to expunge a criminal record. In order to be eligible, it is important to have an experienced attorney to help them understand if they qualify.

Whether it was an arrest at South Padre Island for public intoxication, a DWI in Los Fresnos, or a theft case in Weslaco, each circumstance must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The most important factor to consider for an expunction in Texas is whether the person was ultimately convicted of the offense. A person with a conviction will not be able to expunge their record.

Pretrial diversions that result in dismissals will usually qualify for an expunction. The District Attorney for Cameron and Hidalgo Counties will retain a record but that retained record is not for public databases. It remains as the District Attorney’s own privileged record in case another arrest occurs in that county and may be considered if the person gets into trouble again.

Persons charged with Class C misdemeanors who pleaded guilty or no contest, but received a deferred disposition, might qualify for expunction as long as they committed no offense during that deferred period and the statute of limitations has passed.

If you or a loved one would like more information on whether you qualify to expunge your record, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.

Grandparents’ Rights to Custody or Visitation in Texas

Under Texas Law, there are exceptions to the rule that a parent has a superior right to children and that a grandparent has no legal right to custody or visitation of their grandchildren.

The law is grounded in both common sense and fairness. The first thing the court looks at is whether or not a grandparent has the legal standing to bring a suit for custody or for access to and possession of the child.

Some grandparents do not qualify and a competent attorney may be hired to ask the court to deny a request for a legal order for custody or a visitation schedule.

Some grandparents have always had care of and control over a grandchild, yet do not receive the necessary rights in the form of a court order to be able to fully, legally and independently care for the grandchild.

Temporary custody or temporary possession and access are also available for grandparents who qualify with conditions put in place while a parent is away or otherwise unavailable, unfit or incompetent.

Some grandparents have lost touch with a grandchild because the parent they had access through died.

To find out if you qualify to request a legal order for custody or access to grandchildren, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.

Uncontested Divorces in Texas – How do I File?

Uncontested divorces in Texas are unfortunately common. The law requires that there be no expectation for reconciliation, so if you have consulted your church, your trusted friend or parent, or your conscious, and ultimately you decide it’s time to divorce for the greater good, then you should probably call a professional attorney with experience in divorce law to do it for you.

The WORST thing you can do is separate and then wait to divorce after you both have moved on as you are still legally obligated to each other financially and in other ways.

Some people attempt to file a divorce on their own and later discover they are still legally married, when they honestly thought their divorce was complete. Others pay to download forms online and find that those forms are not appropriate to a Texas divorce and waste their money. Others download proper forms and encounter a clerk at the courthouse who is unable to help or direct them because of the law prohibiting them from giving legal advice. And finally, others put their trust in a non lawyer, notary, or friend and take the gamble that they can navigate through the complex laws and issues and get their divorce. Some are successful and later find out they cut themselves out of thousands of dollars in community property and other things they were entitled to including permanent restraining orders, child support, health supporter, name changes, orders against unrelated adults around their kids or overnight, and much more.

There are three general rules you must know to successfully pursue an uncontested divorce:

1) Are you actually married in the first place?

2) Where should you file in order for the divorce to be legal?

3) What are you even entitled to in the first place?

If you do not sort out the three issues above, you may be clawing around in the dark and have a very frustrating experience.

If you or a loved one needs help with an uncontested divorce, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.  Get what you deserve and get it done right.

An Open Letter To My Fellow Fathers From the Perspective of a Lawyer and a Father

I have grown to understand some things that I feel fathers should know, based on my experience as a father, and my experience in Texas Family Law. I have no intention of targeting fathers over mothers in this letter, but only to provide my perspective, and let it be known that this perspective can also be applied to either parent.

1) Always put your children first, over your own immediate needs, with the goal of long term solutions that benefit the family unit and not short term solutions that disrupt the family unit.

2) Show respect and care for the other parent and demand that your children do the same. Never disparage the other parent to the child for the same reason as you would never tolerate another disparaging your own mother or parent.

3) Never let your children know about your challenges and difficulties, both financially or in life in general. Force yourself to smile, man up and work hard, and be a solver of problems and not a creator of problems.

4) Stop having more children if you are unable to manage the children you already have.

5) Instill morals at the earliest age possible through your example because that is what children will pick up on the fastest. Utilize every resource possible in doing this, including your church, educational programs, outdoor activities, or anything helpful.

6) Stay away from any substance that alters your judgment and ability to supervise your children competently. Studies show that the worst and most regretful things you will do in life will be while you are under the influence of something that alters your judgment.

7) Teach your children to have pride in their family by educating them on the morals and ethics that members of your family have used to do better in life.

8) Be patient with children, love and help them. Children lack the ability and independence to truly care for their own physical and emotional needs, and they are also still developing their minds and judgment, so take the lead and shepherd your children. Stay active in guiding them through life and always go out of your way to show your children you love them- you can never say “I love you” too much to your child.

I promise you all, that if you do most or all of the things mentioned above, you are very unlikely to end up in family law court, your children will grow up well and they will likely give back to you because of your kindness and support for them. Any father should be of the mind frame that you think of your children often, put their needs above your own, and be the last thing you think of before you go to bed and the first thing you think of when you wake up.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps.

Sincerely,

Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera

CALL NOW