Why Title insurance?

Simply put, title insurance is an insurance policy that pays the policyholder for defects or issues with title on a property. Essentially, the title company would be responsible for paying stipulated legal damages against a claim. Title insurance is generally required by a lender, but every buyer should consider a title policy even when not required for the reasons stated above. The policy itself is less than one percent of the sales price.

What do Title companies do?

A title company has many roles. At the basic level, they are the insurance agent and the escrow officer. The title company will hold all funds from buyer and lender and will disburse funds once the file is complete. The title company provides a title “commitment” after they “examine” the file.

The commitment shows everything found through the examination process, which is conducting a search of the “chain of title” (verifying past and current ownership and proper transfers), verifying taxes and Homeowner Association dues are paid or ensuring they will be paid at closing, and searches for judgments on the seller – ensuring these are satisfied or will be paid at closing. The title company also prepares documents and collects documents from the lender and an attorney for buyer and seller to sign.

What happens if I die without a will?

In Texas, if you die intestate (without a will), your property will be distributed according to the Texas Estates Code. The distribution varies, depending on whether you are married, have children, or have other heirs, and whether your property is considered community property or separate property.

DISCLAIMER: The following information is basic information for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For actual legal advice call 214-712-8151.

Married with children or without:

Community Property (presumably all property acquired during the marriage) – If the decedent was married at the time of death and had children, all of which are the surviving spouse’s children, then the spouse would inherit all the community property. If some or all the decedent’s children are not the surviving spouse’s children, then half of the community property estate will pass to the surviving spouse and the other half will pass to the decedent’s children. If the decedent had no children, then the surviving spouse inherits all the community property.
Separate Property (all property owned before the marriage or acquired at any time by gift or inheritance) – The surviving spouse inherits one-third of the decedent’s separate personal property and the right to use the decedent’s real property until the surviving spouse’s death (this is called a life estate). The decedent’s children inherit the remaining separate personal property and the remaining interest in the life estate. If decedent has no children or grandchildren, etc., then the decedent’s surviving parents and siblings would receive one-half of the separate real property and the surviving spouse would receive the other one-half. If decedent has no descendants or other heirs, the surviving spouse will receive all the decedent’s separate personal and real property.

Single with no children:

  • The decedent’s entire estate will pass to their parents in equal halves.
  • If one parent is deceased, their share will pass to decedent’s sibling or descendants of siblings.
  • But the entire estate will pass to surviving parent if there are no siblings or sibling’s decedents.
  • If there is no surviving parent, the entire estate will pass to siblings or descendants of siblings.
  • If there are no surviving descendants, parents, siblings, or descendants of a sibling, the estate would pass in two halves, one-half to decedent’s mother’s relatives and the other to decedent’s father’s relatives.
  • If only one side of decedent’s parent’s relatives have survived, the entire estate passes to that side.
  • If there are no decedent’s heirs, etc., the estate will “escheat” (revert to the State of Texas).

Single with children:

The decedent’s entire estate will pass to their children and/or to their children’s descendants, if a child has predeceased the decedent. For example, one of the decedent’s children is living and the other has died, the surviving child will receive one-half the decedent’s estate and the deceased child’s children will receive the other half. If the deceased child has no children, the surviving child will inherit the decedent’s entire estate.

What is estate planning?

It is simply planning what will happen to your estate and your loved ones when you die. It includes, but is not limited to, having a will and other alternative measures in place for the distribution of your assets, instructions for your health, care, and well-being, if you become mentally or physically disabled, providing care for your loved ones, and provides for the transfer of your business in the event of death or disability. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. The goal of estate planning is to eliminate the headache and financial burden your death or disability would cause you and your loved ones.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is an estate planning tool used to minimize estate taxes and protect assets, among other benefits. Marriam-Webster defines a Trust, in one way, as “a property interest held by one person or organization (as a bank) for the benefit of another” and provides the Legal Definition of a Trust as “a fiduciary relationship in which one party holds legal title to another’s property for the benefit of a party who holds equitable title to the property.” In the short, a Trust is set up as a fiduciary arrangement, which allows a Trustee (a third party) to hold on to the assets on behalf of one or more of the Trust’s beneficiaries. There are several types of Trust, so it is important to find out which type suits your needs.

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