Estate Planning

Monday, November 1, 2021

Spouse Dies, No Will

What happens when a spouse dies and there is no Will?  There is a common, but mistaken, belief that when a spouse dies without leaving a Last Will, the surviving spouse inherits all of the deceased spouse’s property.  Community property laws, like those in Texas, which include marital property and inheritance rules, have traditionally extended greater protection to women and spouses,* however the rules are not as broad as widely believed.

There are two types of marital property under Texas law, separate property and community property.  Separate property includes property acquired by a spouse before marriage, or by gift or inheritance during marriage.  Community property is property acquired by either spouse during marriage, except for separate property.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Title Insurance Scam

If you own a home in Texas, or may buy or sell one, this illuminating article on title insurance is essential reading, Entitled to profit:  In Texas, title insurance is a "total scam" .  Published by investigative news outlet, Texas Observer, the article exposes the title insurance business as a reverse Robinhood system, in which Texas law "forbids competition and sets rates higher than anywhere else in the country, with all the profit flowing in private pockets."  

Read more . . .

Friday, January 10, 2020

New Retirement Account Rules for the New Year

Happy 2020!  Major changes to the federal retirement account rules were signed into law December 20, 2019, under the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act).  Under the new rules, a retirement account can no longer be "stretched" and must be distributed within 10 years to non-spouse beneficiaries.  This will increase the taxes that beneficiaries pay on the funds.  An exception was provided for disabled beneficiaries, thanks to the advocacy work of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). 

Fortunately, most retirement accounts continue to be excluded as a resource in long-term care Medicaid.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Changes to Statutory Durable Power of Attorney

The Texas Legislature has approved major changes to the Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (SDPOA) - the form that allows you to appoint an agent to act for you in certain financial matters - making it imperative to review and consider updating your power of attorney.  Legislators expanded the instrument to include important new powers - including "hot powers" - which may be granted to your agent and may be especially useful for Medicaid Planning, Estate Planning, and Tax Planning purposes.  New agent duties and responsibilities were also added.

The so-called "hot powers" include authorities which may be essential in elder law situations:  for example, the authority to create a trust, to change a beneficiary designation, to create a right of survivorship, and to transfer property to the agent. 

Read more . . .

Archived Posts


Attorney Nancy Stone assists clients with Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, and Estate Planning throughout Harris County, TX. I am now based in Sugar Land and serve all of Houston, Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, Cypress, West University, The Heights, Pearland, Alvin, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Kingwood, Humble, The Woodlands, Spring, Tomball, Richmond, Rosenberg Pasadena, Baytown, La Porte, Clear Lake, Texas City, Katy, Friendswood, Stafford, as well as Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Waller County and throughout Southeast TX.

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2245 Texas Drive, Suite 300, Sugar Land, TX 77479
| Phone: 713.434.6310 | 281.566.2500

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