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Texas estate planning can help to avoid disputes

Estate planning can be used to achieve some of the goals that many people in Texas have for the assets after their deaths. However, even when a trust has been put into place by an individual engaged in estate planning, a case can end in litigation when those left to distribute the trust after that person's death disagree. This is what happened in one recent case that may be of interest to our readers.

In the case, a man left $165,000 in his estate planning documents to a Christian school in honor of the son who had died before the man. The money was intended to be used for the school as long as it remained open. However, if the school were to close, the money would go to the local church that had been running the school.

The litigation of the trust occurred when the trustees of the trust thought that the school had closed its doors and gave the money to the church. However, the school and church had simply separated, but the school was still in operation. The trustees mistakenly dispersed the money to the church. Later, at a legal hearing, arguments were made over who should be allowed to keep the money that had been left in the trust. While the decision was being made, the trustees maintained control over the money.

As is the case in similar matters in Texas, the court in this case was asked to make a determination as to the appropriate recipient of the assets of the deceased man. In such cases, estate planning tools like a trust can address the intent of a now-deceased creator. When this is the case, the court is asked to review the estate planning documents and is able to determine exactly who should receive the inheritance or payments from a trust, even if litigation is necessary.

Source: mlive.com, "Judge rules that Calvary Christian Schools can keep donation that Calvary Church had tried to take, attorney says," Lynn Moore, Feb. 17, 2013

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