What is a Will?

Understanding a will and its purpose is the first step in setting one up

A will is an instrument that legally enables you to give your possessions to family, friends, loved ones and/or a given charity if you so choose.

Why is a will important?

A will helps to avoid a great deal of family tension during an already difficult time. It can also bring down the cost of probate by lowering the number of hours an attorney would require to sort out everything that a will would otherwise call for the distribution of.

Who needs a will?

Anyone with any property of value should have a will.

Who should draft a will?

An attorney should draft a will. This is because if such a document is not drawn up correctly, the court will reject it and/or it will not accomplish the goal for which it was intended.

What are the requirements for a will?

In the state of Texas, the requirements are as follows:

  • that the provisions in the will be clear as to what property is being provided for
  • that the person who signs the will (also known as the testator) does so in the presence of two competent witnesses who are 14 years of age or older

If self-proving affidavits are included along with the will, you can eliminate the need for these witnesses to be present whenever the will is probated.

Another important requirement concerns the mind of the testator. This person must be aware of:

  • the kind of property he or she owns
  • who the beneficiaries are
  • the extent of his or her property

What happens in the event that you die without a will?

Texas state law takes over. This means that family members you have never heard of, with whom you have never spoken and/or with whom you have had disagreements, become legally obligated to inherit all property not distributed through a valid will.

What is probate?

Probate is the process of:

  • recognizing distribution rights
  • taking into account the extent of distribution
  • taking care of any claims that may be made against an estate
  • closing out an estate so that the wishes of the testator are carried out.

Can the probate process be streamlined or eliminated?

Probate is a process that can indeed be streamlined. But it can only be avoided in the rare instances when there is no property to deal with.

In the case of community property, when one spouse passes away before the other, the deceased spouse can only divide or give away his or her share of community property. That person cannot will away anything to which he or she is not entitled. Getting together with an attorney in advance can cut out many problems and ensure provision for rights of survivorship.

What are “rights of survivorship”?

Certain kinds of property, such as manufactured homes, can get transferred over to the spouse that survives without having to go through probate.

In the state of Texas, homestead considerations also exist despite what a will says. A surviving spouse has certain rights to the property that they live on even if, for example, the deceased spouse owned the property outright and gave it away to another party.

For assistance with wills and probate anywhere in the South Texas regions of Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen, contact The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822.

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John Morgan
22:48 05 Dec 17
Attorney Ric Barrera took a case for me that two other attorneys turned down. He worked long diligent hours. Put in way above the time and effort for what I paid him. I could always contact him and text him. He got me more than what I asked for in a jury trial where we prevailed against the other party with a unanimous verdict. The jury liked and the case was well presented to them where they understood it. He prevailed over a lawyer who had 40 more years experience than him. I highly recommend him. He is worth every dime of his fee.read more
Marisol Melendez
22:36 29 Nov 17
He is a Great Attorney. I would definitely recommend him for any future civil or law matters. Very Satisfied with his service as a Lawyer.
Ana Davila
16:38 01 Nov 17
I would highly recommend Mr. Barrera! He is a great attorney. He’s very knowledgeable of the statues and law. His rates are very reasonable and will work with your schedule if you need to meet after hours. More importantly, he cares about his clients and will fight for you.read more
Luke Dusterhus
22:02 19 Oct 17
I’ve never seen such dedication in an attorney. He goes the extra mile. I truly believe he’ll be on our voting ballot sometime. Superb! 5 star rating1
East Consequence
14:54 22 Sep 17
I could fill a book describing how unbelievably happy and grateful I am for everything that Mr. Barrera did for me and my family! I am a father living in Huntsville, Texas, 7 hours from the valley and I was a few days away from watching my two beautiful daughters moved out of state by their mother right after their summer vacation with me without being able to do anything about it. I could not find a lawyer in Huntsville that would take my case on short notice, much less even take my phone call and even if they were interested, I could not afford their high fees. Anything that I needed filed would have to be done in the valley so I called 20 different attorneys down south and no one would or wanted to help me. I was ready to give up and accept that as a father the odds were against me and every attorney knew it but I decided to call one more lawyer. When I called Ricardo I was surprised when he was the one that answered the call and at first he sounded very reserved. So I began retelling the same story that I had told all the other attorneys and he immediately took an interest in what I had to say though I was prepared for him to eventually give me the same response that I had become used to. But he didn’t. He quickly assured me that he could help me and would help me and without demanding payment upfront he immediately went to work for me and began the filing process. He was able to help me keep my daughters in my care until our court date but then hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area which deeply affected our area and once again he went to work and got us a continuance because we were unable to travel to the valley. 21 days later we were in the Cameron county for court, and despite having everything against me and her attorney throwing every technicality at the judge to get the case dismissed, Ricardo was prepared for all of it and fought hard for my family. He accomplished something that is very rare in the state of Texas; he won me temporary custody of my daughters! I was prepared for the court to rule against me but because of Mr. Barrera’s unbelievable experience, extraordinary work ethic, and unwavering commitment to my case as well as I carrying himself with a steel confidence that I didn’t even have, I walked out of the court room with custody of my daughters. We still have more hurdles to get over down the line but I have no doubt that Ricardo will approach it with the same determination that he demonstrated for this part of our case and no matter what happens I will be forever grateful for what he has done for me and my family. I said earlier that I could fill a book with my praise but for now let me just conclude with these final words; anyone out there that is on the verge of losing hope and ready to give up, I can say without hesitation and with complete confidence that hope has a name and it’s Ricardo Barrera!D.O. Huntsvilleread more
Claudio Diaz
20:36 21 Sep 17
We found Mr. Barrera on Google reviews when we needed an attorney to handle a case which was down in the Valley. We were quickly given proof that the highly rated reviews were valid. His response time is quick. When he is not available, his secretary is quick to respond and relay messages to him. He is professional and cares about his clients. We trust you will be just as satisfied as our family is when you choose him as your attorney.read more
Rene Martinez
16:08 30 Aug 17
I would highly recommend using Ricardo’s services for any family law case. His knowledge of family law is extremely valuable and helps when you need to talk about the specifics of your case. I was able to come to him with a special child visitation case and he handled it in a timely manner with great success. He eased my concerns stating facts of the law constantly and we received what he asked. His pricing is extremely reasonable, especially for the quality you receive from his office. Ricardo is my lawyer of choice in the RGV area.read more
Mayra Rodriguez
00:32 25 Aug 17
It was a pleasure to have Mr. Barrera as our attorney. I highly recommend him! I was left speech less full of joy and with an open mouth when he won our case!!!! I am beyond great-full and blessed. always had time to see me and answer any questions i had with no hesitation very professional and nice. thank you Mr. Barrera for your time and help.read more
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