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Noteworthy Changes – New Laws Mean New Documents

A potpourri of legislative changes.

Guardianship is not an amateur sport. A person who wants to be appointed guardian is required to complete formal training at least 10 days before the guardianship hearing. The training will be made available for free on the website of the Judicial Branch Certification Commission, and will cover a guardian’s responsibilities, alternatives to guardianship, supports and services available to the proposed ward and the ward’s bill of rights. The Commission will also conduct a criminal background check of the proposed guardian.

We are going public and centralizing. The Texas Supreme Court will establish a mandatory registration program for all Texas guardianships, with a confidential central database that will be available to law enforcement personnel.

Texas tosses a thousand years of tradition. A “last will and testament” is now referenced in the statute as a “will.” The “last” part was dropped because the document may not be the last one that someone signs. And the “testament” part was dropped because only law professors knew, or cared about, the difference between a will and a testament.

For your durable power of attorney, remember 10 and 7. A third party has 10 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) to accept the power of attorney, request a certification from the agent, or request an attorney’s opinion letter. The third party has 7 business days to accept the power after it receives the certification or opinion. There are a whole bunch of other changes to the durable POA law – if your POA is more than 6 weeks old, then it is definitely time to get an updated one.

Now you have something to do while you are standing in line at the DPS. If you ever wanted to know more about bone marrow donations, then visit your local driver’s license office after September 1, 2017. DPS is required to make informational material and videos available.

Meet the brand new Texas Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. It is supposed to give us solutions to the difficulties faced by fiduciaries (such as executors, guardians, trustees and agents under a power of attorney) who try to access a principal’s digital assets. What are digital assets? Think iTunes, web pages, Airline Rewards, social networking accounts and Bitcoins. Rather than rely upon individual service agreements, individuals can now plan for the management of their digital assets. If you don’t have this language in your will, trust or POA, then it is time to update them.

Once the Secretary of State works out the details, online notarizations will be available. For estate planning documents, however, witnesses must still be physically present when the principal signs the documents.

It will take more than a parent’s consent for a minor to get married. A person under 18 must go to court to formally have their “disabilities of minority” removed.

And, finally, we have new celebrations: January 24th is Oyster Day, February 16th is Texas Homemade Pie Day, , and March 16th is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day.

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

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