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Gregory G. Heffelfinger Lawyer

Gregory G. Heffelfinger

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Over 30 years experience in estate planning - wills, trusts, probate and estate administration.

Helping families in Houston and surrounding area for over 30 years. Services include wills, trusts, estate planning, disability planning, probate,est... (more)

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Bradley L. Leger

Complex Litigation, Estate Planning, Family Law, Mental Health, Litigation
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LEGAL TERMS

INTESTATE SUCCESSION

The method by which property is distributed when a person dies without a valid will. Each state's law provides that the property be distributed to the closest s... (more...)
The method by which property is distributed when a person dies without a valid will. Each state's law provides that the property be distributed to the closest surviving relatives. In most states, the surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and next of kin inherit, in that order.

GRANT DEED

A deed containing an implied promise that the person transfering the property actually owns the title and that it is not encumbered in any way, except as descri... (more...)
A deed containing an implied promise that the person transfering the property actually owns the title and that it is not encumbered in any way, except as described in the deed. This is the most commonly used type of deed. Compare quitclaim deed.

ABATEMENT

A reduction. After a death, abatement occurs if the deceased person didn't leave enough property to fulfill all the bequests made in the will and meet other exp... (more...)
A reduction. After a death, abatement occurs if the deceased person didn't leave enough property to fulfill all the bequests made in the will and meet other expenses. Gifts left in the will are cut back in order to pay taxes, satisfy debts or take care of other gifts that are given priority under law or by the will itself.

PROBATE

The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased pers... (more...)
The court process following a person's death that includes proving the authenticity of the deceased person's will appointing someone to handle the deceased person's affairs identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property paying debts and taxes identifying heirs, and distributing the deceased person's property according to the will or, if there is no will, according to state law. Formal court-supervised probate is a costly, time-consuming process -- a windfall for lawyers -- which is best avoided if possible.

CERTIFIED COPY

A copy of a document issued by a court or government agency guaranteed to be a true and exact copy of the original. Many agencies and institutions require certi... (more...)
A copy of a document issued by a court or government agency guaranteed to be a true and exact copy of the original. Many agencies and institutions require certified copies of legal documents before permitting certain transactions. For example, a certified copy of a death certificate is required before a bank will release the funds in a deceased person's payable-on-death account to the person who has inherited them.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR

Someone appointed by a probate court to oversee probate proceedings when a person dies without a will or heirs, and his or her property is expected to pass to t... (more...)
Someone appointed by a probate court to oversee probate proceedings when a person dies without a will or heirs, and his or her property is expected to pass to the state. Some states have public administrators who are responsible for temporarily preserving the assets of an estate if there are disputes about specific provisions in the will or about who will be appointed the regular administrator.

EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT OF 1974 (ERISA)

A federal law passed to protect pension rights. ERISA: sets minimum standards for pension plans, guaranteeing that pension rights cannot be unfairly denied to o... (more...)
A federal law passed to protect pension rights. ERISA: sets minimum standards for pension plans, guaranteeing that pension rights cannot be unfairly denied to or taken from a worker provides some protection for workers in the event certain types of pension plans cannot pay the benefits to which workers are entitled, and requires that employers provide full and clear information about employees' pension rights, including the way pension benefits accumulate, how the company invests pension funds, and when and how pension benefits can be collected.

TRUSTEE POWERS

The provisions in a trust document defining what the trustee may and may not do.

PERSONAL PROPERTY

All property other than land and buildings attached to land. Cars, bank accounts, wages, securities, a small business, furniture, insurance policies, jewelry, p... (more...)
All property other than land and buildings attached to land. Cars, bank accounts, wages, securities, a small business, furniture, insurance policies, jewelry, patents, pets and season baseball tickets are all examples of personal property. Personal property may also be called personal effects, movable property, goods and chattel, and personalty. Compare real estate.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Smith v. O'DONNELL

... 192 SW3d 780 (Tex.2006). 234 SW3d 135, 138. In Belt, we held that an executor was in privity with the decedent's attorneys and could sue them for estate-planning malpractice. 192 SW3d at 787. A prior case, Barcelo v. Elliott ...

In re Townley Bypass Unified Credit Trust

252 SW3d 715 (2008). In re TOWNLEY BYPASS UNIFIED CREDIT TRUST. No. 06-07-00025-CV. Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana. Submitted February 13, 2008. Decided April 9, 2008. 717 William E. Wylie, William E. Wylie ...

In re Estate of Henry

... in the 1996 revocable living trust agreement. In 2004, Thomas Henry and Ms. Henry met with Warren Nystrom, an attorney whose practice included estate planning and preparation of wills. On October 19, 2004, at the office ...