Today, same sex partner marriage is legal in Texas, as same sex marriages are legalized in all states. Some couples going into marriage don’t think about the formality of the marriage, but it is important to formalize all marriages, as there will be definite advantages to a formal marriage recognized by the state of Texas.
The way to get married in Texas to a same sex partner is similar to the procedures and requirements for opposite sex couples. Here’s a look at some basics:
- You would need to first apply for a marriage license at the county clerk’s office of your county of residence.
- You’ll need to wait around 3 days before you can be officially married.
- The county clerk must issue the license, and you’ll fill out a sworn application stating you are legally able to be married, are not currently married, not marrying a blood relative of first cousin, and are not marrying a current or even a past step-parent or step-child.
You are able to have your marriage ceremony or wedding about a month after the license is issued by the county clerk. You are expected to get married within 3 days of the license being issued. Some couples do not want the formality of a marriage or wedding ceremony, and want to have a domestic partnership or same sex common law marriage. You can apply for a domestic partnership agreement, that reviews the legal rights between the parties who are in a long-term committed relationship.
A partner’s job may use this document to allow putting the partner on an insurance policy, or allowing health benefits for the partner as a family member eligible for coverage. The ability to secure these types of coverage will depend on the employer, the insurance policy carrier, and other details that will vary by couple. There are other benefits of this agreement. You can have peace of mind to know that on the death of one of the parties, the surviving partner will have access to assets, and other distribution of property and debts based on the partnership agreement.
It is the better situation to not make any assumptions regarding any of these distributions. To avoid issues related to unfair distributions, or clarify what is allowable by law, it is necessary to review the laws in this area for assurances. Each case is different, and getting advice from a friend, coworker or family member may not be applicable in your case when the time comes. Any time that you put the wishes of the partner into writing, you are providing a future protection for your partner and other family members. It can also help to consider estate planning for managing any other future concerns on where the assets will go on the death of one partner
Special Needs and Disability Care Planning
Parents of children with special needs, or who have developed a permanent and life-changing disability understand the necessity to plan for how the child’s needs for care would be met in the event of a death of a parent. This seems like a topic that many people would feel embarrassed or not ready to discuss, but it is a critical topic to secure if there are children with special needs in a family.
Special Needs Planning in Texas
Families of children with special needs should have firm directives in place, in the event of the loss of a parent. The needs of the child will increase if the parents are not around or unable to care for the child. For this reason, there should be a formal plan to care for the child’s needs if one or both of the parents were to die.
In years past, families of children with special needs may have never had to consider the “what if’s” until one or both of the parents became infirmed or elderly themselves. When you are able and healthy is the time you should actually plan. The child’s care includes:
- being able to keep any funding that is received now from state or federal programs. In the event of a parent’s death, you would want the child (or more likely, someone else you designate) to manage the red tape to continue to get the support of many free programs for the future care of that child.
- If there are life insurance or assets, they need to be earmarked for caring for the child as well.
- It is also possible to create a trust fund for the child’s special needs now, that would pay for many of the child’s needs going well into the future.
Knowing what to do if the parents die will help any well-meaning family members, support family and friends, and community services to know how they could and should step in to help the child, in the event of a parental death. The worse case scenario is if there is no plan for the child’s special needs to be met, and the child has to go to the system of the state for care or support, if no one else can “step up” or was prepared to take in a child with special needs. Today, there are also many families who have more than one child with special needs. It is not at all unusual for a family to have more than one child with autism, gene related disabilities, or other special needs. All of these children would need to be properly cared for, in the event of a death of a parent.
It may be the case that parents today disagree on the future care directives of a child with special needs. That is actually a good time to discuss those care needs and find answers now, before the needs become a firm reality in the future.
Texas Wills and Funeral Instructions
Many people never consider what will happen to them when they die, but they might as well consider it sooner than later. Having a will is a gift to the family that you leave behind, as it will solve many questions, issues and problems related to the distribution of your estate once you pass from this earth. Often when a person dies, there are questions regarding how to distribute property, and possessions, as well as questions over who will assume the debts and liabilities of the deceased loved one. These questions can be settled well ahead of a death, if some time and preparation are given to wills and funeral instructions.
What’s Required in a Texas Will?
Texas does not have one standard type of will, therefore you are allowed to make up your will as your personal discretion allows. There are numerous websites available online to give you general information on how to make up a will, and you can easily find some forms that can be downloaded there as well to get you started. But what do you need to consider in a will?
Let’s start at the beginning. It is a benefit to you to take stock of all of your assets, liabilities such as debts, and properties, and review what you have that you would want to transfer to someone else at your death. If you have children, step-children, elderly parents to take care of or a disabled child to consider, you will want to distribute assets equally among these family members or heirs.
You are permitted to share your property owned at your death with anyone you choose. This means you can distribute your property to a charity, school, institution or anyone to be performed at your death. In the movies and in Hollywood, it is all very dramatic to put a clause in your will that says, “And to my lazy nephew, I only leave one silver dollar, to teach him the value of money!” but this is unrealistic and hardly ever happens in real life. If you are wanting to give your estate out to people in unequal shares, it is best to warn them ahead of time, to prevent family feuds breaking out, and to keep the peace at your funeral.
Texas Funeral Planning
Speaking of funerals, you can prepare as much as you prefer for your final resting place and final arrangements, to be performed at your death. Many people buy land plots for the family, and also make general funeral arrangements ahead of time. Most all families know the wishes of their members, such as if they prefer an open casket funeral or want to be cremated. There are also many services that can help to provide closure for the family. These include final flights to distribute cremains, burials and scattering of ashes at sea, making of diamonds and various pieces of jewelry from the cremains of a loved one, and other options such as urns in the shape of an antique clock or urn sundials to keep the loved one’s ashes near, but not a distraction for the family.
If you have any questions get in touch with a Texas estate planning lawyer to learn more about your rights. Ultimately, your will and funeral should be in accordance to your wishes and a lawyer can help ensure that happens.
Types of Real Property Deeds in Texas
Generally speaking, real property refers to property that can be deeded from one party to another. Personal property is more your personal possessions. Real property has the requirement to be deeded, as people own property, as opposed to the property being “free” to anyone who wants to use it. In the case of a national park, yes, people are permitted to go onto the land, sometimes for a fee, to hike, walk, camp and enjoy the sites. But in general, most land in the United States does belong to someone, and therefore deeds to transfer land between parties needs to be done formally.
Texas Real Property Deeds
The different types of deeds are:
- General or warranty deed (with express and implied warranties)
- Special warranty deed
- Deed without warranties
- Transfer on Death Deed
- Trustee’s deed
- Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
- Correction deed
There are finer distinctions among all types of deeds, and there can be special situations which apply to the deed, such as with a deed with tenants in common, or when there is an issue with a fraudulent deed.
Real estate can be transferred in Texas by deed, but the deed need not be recorded to be considered valid. The deed does need to show who executed it (grantor) and who accepted the property as the buyer (grantee). The recording of a deed does offer notice to the public that a piece or parcel of land has been sold, and makes title searching a breeze to verify the chain of title to land. If you record your deed to land, it also makes it easier to tell the cities and town taxing agencies where they need to send any tax bills for that land. There is no similar requirement to tell what the price of the land sold for, and that information can be kept private if needed.
All deeds need to be signed by a notary public with the seller’s signature, but the buyer does not need to sign the deed unless it has a special agreement attached that there are other legal issues and requirements for the sale, are being exchanged in the transfer. If you want to transfer property, you can do so without paying off a lender, since in Texas the title and debt are considered different entities.