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How Do Prenups Work in Texas?

Texas prenup agreement

Nobody wants to go into a marriage thinking about divorce, but unfortunately, it is a fact of life for an estimated 41-50% of couples in the United States. That number is even higher for second and third marriages; they clock in at 60-67% and 73-74%, respectively.

Divorce is not only emotionally painful. But, it can also have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life if they don’t protect themselves legally. That’s where a prenuptial agreement comes into play.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, or a prenup, is a legally binding document that is finalized prior to marriage. In simple terms, it is a marital contract between the parties executing it. It details what property belongs to each party upon entering the marriage and who will have management rights over that property. If done properly, it can also assist in determining how property and debts will be divided should a divorce occur. It can safeguard one spouse against the other’s outstanding debts they accumulated before getting married. A prenup will usually only include the property and debt a spouse has prior to marriage, since anything gained during the marriage is typically considered community property.

Reasons to Get a Prenup in Texas

You may think that prenups are only for the wealthy, but the truth is, they can protect anyone at any income level.

In Texas, a prenup can be utilized for a variety of reasons. Some couples may want to enter into a prenup to preserve family fortunes for children from an earlier marriage. Some use them to predetermine the parties’ rights and duties during marriage, including childcare, housework, career sacrifices, and managerial responsibilities related to family finances. They can be used to ensure a certain religious upbringing of a child. If you have a family business or some other type of property you want to be given to your blood relatives, then you can include this as well.

If one of the spouses plans on primarily raising the children, and won’t be earning an income, or will be earning a lower income, then spousal support, or alimony, can be outlined in the prenup. You can also incorporate how you will deal with disputes if you’re divorcing.

While a prenup in Texas can address the various issues mentioned, there are some things that are prohibited and therefore cannot be included in a prenup. Prenups cannot be used to adversely affect child support obligations, defraud creditors, waive a prospective spouse’s benefits in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) retirement plan, and cannot violate public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

In the event parties wish to readdress provisions contained in their prenup, a postnuptial agreement can be executed evidencing the parties’ new agreements.

Getting a Prenup in Texas

The Texas Family Code regulates what is a valid and invalid prenup. For instance, the prenup needs to be in writing; oral prenups do not count in a court of law. Both parties, prior to a marriage, must sign them voluntarily.

A prenup needs to be properly executed to be enforceable. If not done properly, you can run the risk that the prenup will invalidated in Texas. For example, if one spouse was not given adequate and correct information about their spouse’s property and debts. If the prenup was not signed voluntarily. There may be a situation arise where the prenup is determined to be unconscionable. But if a spouse signed a waiver of disclosure stating that they did not need to know all about the other spouse’s properties and debts, then the prenup could still be valid. Enforceability is something to be aware of when executing a prenup and needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

If you do not have a prenup, or your prenup is invalidated for some reason, then any property or debt you acquired during your marriage could be community property.

Why Prenups Strengthen a Marriage

young married coupleWhile prenups were not as common in the past, many younger couples today are choosing to use them. No matter how old you are or what number marriage you’re on, if you’re getting married in Texas, it makes sense to have a prenup.

You and your spouse will feel protected in case your marriage doesn’t work out. Also, it’s better to hash out details when you are on each other’s side and want to ensure you both have a good life following divorce. You don’t want to be forced to make these decisions when you are angry, frustrated or feeling contentious toward your spouse at the end of your marriage.

A healthy way to look at a prenup is to compare it to insurance. While you will likely never need to use it, it’s there for you just in case the worst scenario happens. You want to be protected and not have to go through a rigorous and exhausting divorce process when you’re already going to be emotionally wounded. You’re doing a favor to your future self, as well as to your spouse. Your divorce proceedings will go more quickly and smoothly with a prenup in place.

Tips for Getting a Prenup in Texas

When deciding on whether or not to get a prenup in Texas, discuss the issue early with your spouse-to-be. Don’t spring it on them a month before your wedding or catch them off guard. It’s best to talk about it when you’re still dating. If your spouse-to-be is offended or against the idea, you may want to consider hiring a couple’s therapist who can help you work through any issues and feelings you both have about the agreement.

It’s also a good idea to hire separate lawyers so you both feel equally represented and that you’re receiving a fair deal. You will need lawyers to write and examine your prenup to ensure you don’t have any vague language in it, and also to guarantee that it is indeed legally binding.

Finding a Lawyer for Your Prenup

If you and your spouse-to-be have decided that you do want to pursue a prenup, make sure you turn to the experts to help you create a thorough and legal document.

The experienced Houston prenup attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC are available to consult with you if you are considering a prenup before marriage. We can provide valuable insight on prenups and our initial consultation is always at no charge to you. You can learn more about our prenuptial agreements by calling the family law attorneys at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, LLC at (713) 333-4430.

Ways a Car Accident Impacts Your Mental Health

Many people die from car accidents each day. While you may not think this can happen to you, each time you enter your vehicle, you’re at risk of dying in a car accident. The simple act of one negligent driver checking their phone, for example, can abruptly end in a fatal accident. 

If you’re lucky enough to survive your car accident, you may walk away with your life, but it won’t be the same. You may have serious losses and legal fees to handle. Along with your physical trauma, you’ll likely experience mental trauma as well. While everyone handles traumatic experiences in different ways, there’s always a high chance that you’ll suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

You should never experience this level of emotional distress because of someone’s reckless actions. You deserve compensation for your damages, including the impact to your mental health. Contacting a car accident attorney in Detroit can kickstart your case for compensation.

You May Suffer from PTSD

For many accident victims, every detail surrounding their accident will replay itself over and over inside of their heads. They’ll constantly relive the exact moment that the accident occurred. They might even dream about their accident. The sound of crunching metal and the smell of burnt rubber will never leave their senses while they suffer from PTSD caused by a car accident. 

When someone least expects it, they’ll always think of their car accident. The experience will remain deep inside of their minds, and various triggers will begin to form for them. No matter how much they may want their PTSD to stop, it’ll feel almost impossible to move on from this experience.

If this sounds like you, this may even discourage you from driving in the future or even entering another vehicle as a passenger. Certain sounds could trigger flashbacks to a traumatic experience. Everyone copes with trauma in unique ways, but your healthiest option is to attend therapy, even though it can be expensive. 

How Does Counseling Help Your Mental Health?

The best way to help your trauma is to seek counseling for your PTSD. Similar to if you were to break your arm, you must get the proper help you need if you feel like your mental and emotional health is damaged. Without treating your depression, anxiety, and PTSD, you open yourself up, losing your way of life, and you must always take care of your mental health. 

There is no shame in seeking help for any issues you may have with your mental health. You’re not “crazy” for feeling like there’s something wrong with your mental health. Remember, you almost lost your life during your car accident, and this experience is not something that anyone can brush off. 

Visiting a therapist will allow you to process your mental and emotional trauma. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your feelings with a licensed therapist who will listen to how you feel about your accident. A therapist will also help you create ways to cope and move on from your experiences following your accident. 

The perfect thing about therapy is that it’s never too late to work on your mental health. No matter when your accident happened, you’ll always have psychological baggage that you can sort through by talking to a therapist.

You’ll Be Faced with Your Mortality 

Having a near-death experience isn’t something that you easily forget. Any number of factors could have increased your chances of dying in a car accident. Being faced with this reality will often change your outlook on life. The concept of never seeing your loved ones again or experiencing the things that truly make you happy is a terrifying thought.

Whenever you experience a car accident, this concept can become your reality. Many more thoughts and emotions run through your head as you suffer from damages caused by a negligent driver. For this reason, car accidents are just as traumatizing to your mental health as they are to your physical health. 

Never take your life for granted. The unfortunate reality of car accidents is that they can occur at any moment. No matter how careful you drive and how modern your vehicle, there’s always a chance of another driver taking your life away. 

Many car accidents that happen are the result of irresponsible drivers who are either drunk or texting on their cellular devices while operating a potentially dangerous vehicle. You must always live your life to the fullest and anticipate anything happening to you. However, you shouldn’t live your life in fear; instead, you should enjoy it and embrace every opportunity that comes your way.

National Car Accident Reports – A Heavy Financial Burden

Auto accidents affect thousands of Americans every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 37,000 individuals lost their lives in automobile accidents in 2018. Concurrently, an early estimate of traffic fatalities in 2019 demonstrated that although the number of miles traveled has increased this year, fatality rates have decreased from rates projected in the same period in 2018. In spite of this, auto accidents affect many more people through serious bodily injuries, which nonetheless affect them in a variety of ways.

Car Accidents – Quick Facts and Stats

The following is a quick snapshot of the 2012 auto accident report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which highlights bodily injury after a car accident:

  • Approximately 1 million people in the United States spend more than a million days in hospital care every year as a result of auto accident injuries.
  • Injuries sustained from an accident in 2012 resulted in $18 billion of lifelong medical costs. Over 75% of the costs accumulated occur in the first 18 months following a collision.
  • The lifelong ability to earn a living that was lost because of injuries reported in 2012 totaled about $33 billion.
  • In 2012, over 2.5 million people in the U.S. were treated in the emergency department and over 200,000 individuals were hospitalized for their injuries.
  • On average, auto accident-related emergency department costs are $3,300, which totals about $57,000 over an injured person’s lifetime.

Undoubtedly, the costs related with an automobile accident injury can be unbearable for any person and his or her family. Based on these reports, it is evident that auto accidents have the capability of affecting an injured person for many years following an accident.

Costs Associated With Auto Accidents

Aside from the injuries associated with auto accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that after an accident, there are many costs that a person may accrue. These costs can occur in one of two methods: direct costs or indirect costs. In a car accident, a direct cost will generally commence at the time of the car accident, whereas indirect costs are expenses that accumulate in the aftermath of the car accident.

A few examples of direct costs associated with car accidents include: medical expenses, physical therapy and medication, towing costs, police reports, damage to the vehicle, damage to the property inside the vehicle & potential effect on the insurance policy.

There are also a variety of other costs that can accumulate as an indirect result of a car accident. These supplementary costs can be detrimental for an injured victim and his or her family. Examples of this may include: a family’s overall economic loss, the victim’s pain and suffering, legal fees associated with the car accident, the loss of the victim’s earning capacity, time lost from work, childcare costs, renting a vehicle, and/or other transportation costs.

Protect Your Rights After A Car Accident

Whether a car accident has caused you serious injury or not, it is important that you protect your rights and interests following a collision and there are essential steps you can take that will help you. Probably the most important to your claim is contacting a personal injury attorney or law firm who deals with auto accident cases. These cases can become complex very quickly and having someone who understands how to protect your rights can make all the difference. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident in the State of New Jersey, Harrell Smith & Williams LLC in Westfield are available to talk about your rights and how they can help victims of serious car accidents. You can learn more about how they help car accidents victims in New Jersey, or contact them directly here.

Obtaining a Permanent Residency in the United States Through Marriage

When an American citizen or U.S. citizen has lawfully married a person who is a resident of a foreign country, it can be possible for the foreign resident to obtain a permanent residency in the United States. Obtaining a permanent residency will allow the immigrant to become a legal permanent resident and this will help this person lawfully reside and obtain a job in the country.

If you are a resident of another country and are married to a U.S. citizen, you and your partner will need to fill out required forms and make sure that all necessary documentation is in order. The failure to complete the necessary documentation in the application process can not only delay the entire process but it can also prevent you from obtaining a permanent residency status.

Applying for a Green Card

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the official forms used to obtain permanent residency through marriage involve the following forms:

The application process can vary on a case-by-case basis and will largely depend on whether the spouse who is sponsoring the immigrant is a permanent resident or a United States citizen. The entire duration of the application process will also depend on whether the petitioner is already within the United States or in a foreign country. In the event that the couple has been married for less than 2 years, the granted residency will be given on a conditional basis.

Important documents that may be needed in a permanent residency process may include the following:

  • A copy of the couple’s civil marriage certificate,
  • If applicable, copies that show all previous matrimonies have been terminated,
  • Evidence demonstrating any legal name changes, and
  • Approved photographs

The sponsoring partner will also need to provide documentation showing proof of permanent residency or citizenship.

Same Sex-Couples

The ability to obtain permanent residency through marriage has been recently expanded to include married couples of the same sex. This was made possible under the Supreme Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. This rule has allowed couples of the same sex the ability to receive equal benefits as heterosexual spouses under immigration laws. Because of this, many more people will now be able to apply for a permanent residency status through marriage.

Hire a Qualified Immigration Law Attorney

Becoming a permanent resident in the United States is possible if you successfully complete all the necessary documentation. Consider seeking the support of a qualified immigration law attorney for an expedited application process.

The attorneys at the King Immigration Law Group have many years of dedicated experience helping those interested in obtaining permanent residency in the United States. The firm understands that the process can be complex and time consuming. If you or someone you know is interested in petitioning for a U.S. permanent residency, hire the support of a proficient immigration law firm straightway.

Why It’s Never a Good Idea to Leave the Scene of an Accident

Seasoned lawyers from law firms like Dickson Kohan & Bablove understand what it takes to win a personal injury case after a car accident. In most cases, you’ll have better chances at receiving settlement by just remaining at the scene where the accident took place as long as you weren’t violating any traffic regulations.

Lawyers, especially those practicing in the field of personal injury law, also know that leaving the scene of an accident will virtually wipe out your chances of receiving compensation. The risk of losing a claim is very high if you “fled” even if your car sustained more damage, and you were the victim. Worse, you may even end up being tagged as being at fault. Here’s a look at why you should stay put at the scene after a car accident.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave the Scene of a Car Accident

The main reason why you should remain in the scene of an accident is that it is against the law to leave. Leaving the scene without stopping and immediately reporting the incident to the authorities is illegal in the United States. Such an offense may be deemed either as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense. Most road accidents, such as car collisions or hitting pedestrians, are categorized as hit and run if you did not stop and chose to leave immediately.

Understandably, accidents can be too traumatic and distressing for some drivers that they choose not to stop. Others may have been unaware that they may have caused an accident. Either way, hit-and-run charges will apply, but only to the driver of the vehicle and not the passengers.

Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Hit-and-Run Charges

A hit-and-run incident will only be considered misdemeanor if the accident did not result in any injury to others, but only damage to properties such as on the other vehicles involved. Misdemeanor hit and runs often take place in parking lots where a driver may back into an unoccupied parked vehicle. It should be noted, however, that definitions for this charge may vary according to state.

A hit-and-run charge becomes a felony if the accident caused injury or death to another person. This applies if the driver hits a pedestrian or a cyclist. It may also apply in car collisions that resulted in injury or death to the driver and passengers of the other car.

Certain Instances When You Can Leave the Scene of the Accident

There are some cases wherein you’ll be better off leaving the scene of the accident. For instance, you need to report the accident but are in an area where there’s poor reception, you may try to look for help in the nearest commercial or residential areas. If an accident occurs in a dangerous location such as in a high-crime area, or if there’s a chance of an explosion or fire, the driver may move to a safer area near where the accident occurred.

If you find yourself involved in a car accident, try to regain your composure to help you think more clearly. After making sure that you are safe, stay within the vicinity of the accident and wait for the authorities to arrive. Leave only after you have provided a statement to the authorities and they have given you permission to do so.

How A Revocable Living Trust Can Help Avoid Probate in California

revocable trust document
Revocable trust on a wooden desk.

In California, a person can create a living trust in order to avoid the expensive, stressful and time consuming process of probate. Probate is the court process of distributing assets when someone does not have a Revocable Living Trust. In order to transfer assets to beneficiaries without court proceedings, however, a revocable trust must undertake a series of steps. Conceptually, creating a revocable trust is not very complicated, and it can help you feel at ease in knowing that your beneficiaries will not have to be concerned with a court-supervised probate after your passing. The problem with the probate court proceedings is that they take at least a year, sometimes much longer, and cost tens of thousands in fees and expenses. Your Revocable Living Trust can also ensure that your private affairs will remain private. Probate court proceedings are all public record, meaning all the details of your assets could be available for anyone to see if you don’t have a proper estate plan.

What is a Revocable Trust?

During your lifetime, a revocable trust acts very much like owning assets in your own name. You can use the money whenever you want and for whatever you want. You can always revise your revocable trust in the future as your circumstances change. After your passing, the trust becomes irrevocable and cannot be changed. The trust will be managed and distributed as you have stated in the trust document.

Initiating the Process – Estate Planning in California

Revocable living trusts are established by drafting and signing a trust agreement. Trust agreements involve three essential parties:

  1. The settlor, also known as a grantor – the individual who is creating or funding the trust. This will always be you.
  2. The trustee – the individual who is responsible for managing the trust and its assets. Most of the time, the settlor is the initial trustee. The settlor will also name “successor trustees” who will step in to administer the trust when the original trustee becomes unable to do so because of death or incapacity.
  3. The beneficiary – the party who is benefiting from the trust. Again, this is the settlor during the settlor’s lifetime and the settlor’s loved ones after the settlor passes away.

Trust Funding – Naming and Transferring Assets into the Trust

Once the trust agreement has been signed, the settlor will need to fund the trust. This process involves transferring the settlor’s assets into the name of the trust. For certain assets, such as retirement accounts, you can’t change the name of the account to the trust, but you can name the trust as the pay-on-death beneficiary.

Real property is also generally held in trusts. This is done with transfer deeds at the County Recorder where the property is located. Ultimately, you want to make sure all of your assets are either held in trust or transferred to your trust automatically upon passing.

How a Living Trust Avoids Probate

The only assets that go through probate are assets in your probate estate. Your probate estate consist of assets owned in your individual name, which do not have a pay-on-death beneficiary. Assets transferred to your trust avoid probate because they are held in the name of the trust, not your individual name. There are many pitfalls to relying on pay-on-death accounts to avoid probate. The best way to avoid probate and protect your assets is by transferring your assets to your trust.

The successor trustee appointed in the trust agreement will have legal authority to take the place of the initial trustee (usually the settlor) upon the settlor’s passing or incapacity. This person can then take control of the settlor’s trust assets, including investment accounts, bank accounts, and other business ventures. This person can also collect any life insurance proceeds, retirement funds, or annuities if the trust is the beneficiary. The successor trustee will also have the legal authority to pay any outstanding debts and taxes as well as distribute the remainder of the trust funds to other beneficiaries named in the agreement. This can all be possible without a court involved probate.

When Opening a Probate May Be Necessary

In the event that a revocable living trust has been created but the settlor has failed to transfer a specific asset into the trust, this property may still need to be probated. Such an event can happen if an asset was purchased after the trust was created or if the settlor failed to fund the trust initially. If a will has not been properly executed, the assets will pass to the settlor’s heirs-at-law, or next of kin, under California intestacy laws. This could be completely different than the wishes of the settlor which is why comprehensive estate planning is so important.

In order to avoid assets going to the improper people, a “pour-over” will should be executed at the same time that a trust is created and funded. The pour-over will can direct assets owned outside the trust to be transferred into the trust through probate. Ideally, you do not rely on your pour-over will to fund your trust because it will require a probate.

The best option would be to transfer all assets into the revocable living trust. Read about funding issues, and other common estate planning mistakes.

Hire an Experienced Living Trust Attorney in Orange County

The living trust attorneys at Modern Wealth Law have many years of dedicated experience helping their clients prepare and effectively plan for the future. Ultimately, the firm helps clients ensure that their assets are allocated to their loved ones and are protected against future creditors or ex-spouses. Living trusts can offer numerous benefits and help avoid court-ordered probate if the process is carried out effectively. In order to ensure all assets avoid probate, seek the legal support of a skilled law firm for support.

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Texas prenup agreement

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