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James Brian Thomas

James Thomas’s Answers

590 total


  • My wife and I have guardianship of our 21 year old autistic son.

    If something were to happen to us, how can we appoint or select a temporary guardian to keep him out of state system for as long as possible?

    James’s Answer

    Sound advice from the answers you've received so far. You and your wife should consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as you can to gain some peace of mind. Designations and nominations are a great, and easy, way to plan for this scenario. You might also wish to discuss including trust or special needs provisions in your Wills so that your son might continue to remain eligible for any benefits he currently receives or could be entitled to in the future.

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  • My father passed away and didn't leave a beneficiary for the CD account he has with my mom. What must be done?

    The bank account and savings listed my mother as beneficiary but he did not list one for the CD account which was setup over 10 years ago. His Will does list my mother as beneficiary to his assets. What form must be filed to get the bank to tran...

    James’s Answer

    Mr. Pyke is correct as usual. A form won't help you or your mother. The good news is that admitting the Will to probate and collecting the CD as the representative of your father's estate is usually quite easy in Texas. Some factors that you don't mention here, like debts or disputes regarding the validity of the Will, can complicate things. Consult with a probate attorney in the county where your father lived, and you'll likely be relieved to hear that the process is pretty straightforward.

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  • Can my father's estate be probated as intestate if my stepmother will not probate his will?

    My stepmother is claiming that my father had nothing at the time of his death. However we know this is not true. He owned his home, a truck, a gold coin collection and had a few bank accounts. I spoke with him one month before his passing while hi...

    James’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You could allege that your father died intestate, but the result may not be the same as what you believe your father left you under his Will. A demand for the production of the Will might get the ball rolling, and can even be enforced by the Court if needed. Even a copy of the Will, which I presume this attorney that you know probably has, could be produced to get things moving at this point. One thing that I would keep in mind is the fact that not all property passes under a person's Will. Your father could have done any number of things (payable on death bank accounts, deeds with life estates) to direct property at his death rather than use a Will. You need the help of a knowledgable attorney in this area just to know what issues you're looking at.

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  • Can you recommend a probate attorney in the Dallas area that will work on contingency?

    My dad passed away in July 2013 in Irving, TX and my stepmother (executor) is refusing to probate his will. She has already started giving away his property to her own children from her first marriage. We need help ASAP.

    James’s Answer

    Mr. Pyke is absolutely right. Depending on the facts of the case, many excellent lawyers might work with you. But you don't really give any facts to evaluate. Contingency work involves a risk (sometimes high) that we may not be paid for our work. Anybody interested in taking that risk is going to want to know more before they commit to potentially working for free.

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  • Executor of will lost the will. 2 heirs. Executor is felon.

    My grandmother made my mother executor of her will. My mother "lost" the will thinking she was the only heir. I was adopted by my grandparents. Now my mother is scrambling for a will. She's also trying to get me to sign a deal without telling ...

    James’s Answer

    The best advice that you've read in the responses so far is that the time for websites is over. Even if you get an answer that you like, you're nowhere closer to protecting yourself or preserving any part of the Estate that you should receive. Turn your attention and energy to picking a lawyer that you can work with.

    All of my colleagues are correct. Convicted felons cannot be executors in Texas. And, "lost" wills can still be proven, but only under some really unique circumstances. Finally, signing something that your mother wants you (without first having your own lawyer look at it) to could be a huge mistake.

    Start shopping for probate attorneys.

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  • Can 1 out of five children become administrator of a unmarried parents estate with out the consent of 3 remaining children.

    1 year has passed and my fathers estate has not been administrated yet. The main reason is that my fathers sister has misused her authority and refuses to release his properties from when he was alive, but not in position to stop her, she took pos...

    James’s Answer

    An answer to your question won't begin to address the many issues that you've raised in the limited facts that you've provided. Suffice to say that you need to speak to an attorney immediately to get a grip on this runaway scenario. You will find many experienced probate attorneys in your area (or where your father resided if different) that can help you.

    To answer your question, YES, one out of five children could be appointed as the dependent administrator. This assumes many things: one being that your father died without a Will.

    Assuming that your father died without a Will, his property passes to his heirs. If, for some reason, the heirs decide to a division that is different from the one outlined by law, that Agreement would need to be unanimous. From the sound of things, nothing about this looks unanimous. Do yourself a favor and start making some calls to probate lawyers.

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  • My mom died and her will was not signed or notarized. What should I do?

    In her will it stated that she was leaving everything to me, her only child. My uncle went and put a freeze on her account while I was out of town.

    James’s Answer

    Speak with an attorney today. Your case involves several issues, and you're just going to have to educate yourself. As my colleagues have pointed out, the Will is likely ineffective, unless it was handwritten. Fortunately, it sounds like your status as an heir is pretty firm. This is great news for you, assuming that there is not another Will. Your case may also deal with non-probate assets, since you don't mention what sort of account your mother owned at her death. Get with an attorney, tell your story and get some answers and options.

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  • My sister is my mother's guardian and refuses the other siblings to call or visit my mother, Can the siblings get visitation.

    To fight my sister for guardianship would put a hardship on my mother's health. The siblings have a video of my mother asking my sister to let us see her and she refuses. My sister is using my mother to hurt us. Can we ask the court for visit...

    James’s Answer

    Many times, the word "guardian" gets tossed around and means different things to different people. If your sister has been appointed by a Court as your mother's guardian, the actions that you're describing could be contrary to your mother's "best interests." If an appointed guardian strays into these poor decisions, the Court can act, and you should take steps to see that it does.

    If, on the other hand, your sister hasn't been appointed, but is merely the one that looks after mom and rides roughshod over the rest of the family, guardianship may very well be appropriate. In either event, I'm not sure that anything could stop your sister from trying to have you arrested. Fortunately, nothing that I'm suggesting you consider is a crime. Your sister can make a scene, and the police will tell you to hire an attorney and sort it out in a guardianship case. Either way, that's where your story is headed next. Best of luck!

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  • Can I have someone else file a lawsuit for me since I am a college student

    I am at college these former renters trashed my house so I have my mother file a lawsuit and now he is saying I cant do that but I gave my mother a letter saying I gave her full rights to do so. Are they right or can I do that.

    James’s Answer

    I am assuming that you are over the age of 18. Unfortunately, your letter is probably not adequate. Your mother cannot simply present your case, unless she is a licensed attorney that represents you. One option would be to assign your legal claim to your mother, but this would mean that any recovery is hers -- not yours.

    Why not just hire an attorney? A good chunk of the work in most lawsuits can be accomplished without the physical presence of the party seeking relief. Your schedule and proximity shouldn't really be a problem.

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  • Do I have rights as decedents only child seperate from probate?

    My Father was married at time of death. I am his only child from a previous relationship. Do I have rights other than that with which deals with probate? This may be an ignorant question but I do not know if probate is the sum of EVERYTHING that w...

    James’s Answer

    Mr. Frederick is correct. There are a number of additional facts that any probate attorney would need to learn to answer your questions fully. And I wouldn't worry about your ignorance. Most individuals experience probate law only once or twice during their entire lifetimes. The professionals that deal with these issues every day hardly expect their clients to be experts.

    Whether or not a Will exists is the big question. Next, as my colleague points out, a person can have a substantial amount of what we refer to as "non-probate" assets. These assets, if any, pass under the terms of a designation your father made while alive, and not by Will or other law. Life insurance, or "payable on death" bank accounts are great examples.

    Texas does not force heirship. Unfortunately, this means that your father may have lawfully taken steps to create an estate plan that does not provide for you. At the other end of the "what if" spectrum is a default system that would provide you with rights if your father never created his own estate plan. Contact an attorney and discuss some of these basic facts with them. You may not get all of the answers that you're looking for, but you will certainly learn what questions you should be asking. Good luck!

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