A host of issues were addressed by the 82nd Session of the Texas Legislature. A few of the significant changes to the Family and Probate Codes follow.
Spousal Maintenance. Similar to what some states refer to an alimony, “spousal maintenance” may be ordered if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property, on dissolution of marriage, to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs. Changes to the duration and amount of spousal maintenance were made by House Bill 901, including an amendment to Texas Family Code § 8.054 relating to the duration of maintenance, which now depends upon whether a marriage lasted 10, 20 or 30 years – and changes to § 8.055 of the Family Code dealing with the limit of spousal maintenance, which increased from $2,500 to $5,000 [and includes clarification of “gross” income].
Access to a Child Under Three. Senate Bill 820 amended the Family Code so that in rendering a possession and access order, the court shall consider evidence of all relevant factors, including 13 factors set forth in the § 153.254 of the Texas Family Code.
Self-Proving Wills. Revisions to Texas Probate Code § 59 make it easier to execute a self-proving will as the testator and witnesses only need sign once, rather than twice under the traditional method. This method is optional, and the traditional two-step method will continue to be valid.
Notice to Beneficiaries. The beneficiary notice requirements of § 128A of the Texas Probate Code have been simplified so that the Personal Representative of a decedent does not have to provide notice to beneficiaries 1) whose aggregate gifts total less than $2,000, 2) who have received all of their gifts within 60 days of an order admitting the will to probate or 3) who are sent a written summary of their gifts and waive right to notice in an instrument signed by the beneficiary and filed with the court.
Probate Inventories. Some of the requirements of Texas Probate Code § 250 have been eased. For example, inventories are no longer required to list whether a decedent’s property is owned in common with others and is no longer required to list names and relationships of those co-owners.