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Welcome to the Texas Probate Web Site, your source for information on estate planning, probate and trust law in Texas.  This site is owned and maintained by Glenn Karisch of The Karisch Law Firm, PLLC, of Austin, Texas.  For older information, visit the legacy site at


Legislative changes take effect September 1, 2017

Most of the changes made to the Estates Code, Trust Code and related statutes by the 85th Texas Legislature became effective September 1, 2017. See the 2017 Legislation page to learn about these changes, including links to legislative updates and to downloadable forms.


New disability planning forms for use beginning September 1, 2017, except for one...

The Texas Legislature changed four disability planning forms and added a related form.  With one exception, these new forms should be used beginning September 1, 2017.

There were major changes to the durable power of attorney act.  This led to changes in the statutory durable power of attorney form and to the adoption of a new certification form for agents.

There were minor changes to the declaration of guardian form for adults and to the declaration for mental health treatment.  These changes make it unnecessary to use two witnesses if the declaration is acknowledged before a notary public, except that the declaration of guardian still requires two witnesses if it disqualifies anyone from serving as guardian.

All of the above forms are for use beginning September 1.  The exception is the medical power of attorney form.  It was revised to incorporate the disclosure statement in the form itself, eliminating the need for a separate disclosure statement.  The new form is effective January 1, 2018.  Its use is mandatory, so take care to use the correct form.

For more information, see Glenn Karisch's 2017 Legislative Update.


Trust modification paper now addresses 2017 legislative changes

Glenn Karisch has updated his "Fixing or Killing Off Broken Trusts" paper to address changes to the Texas Trust Code made in 2017 by the Texas legislature.  These changes permit reformation of trusts and liberalized decanting in Texas and are effective September 1, 2017.

The updated paper is available here.


2017 Texas legislative changes

The 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature ends May 29, 2017.  Go to the 2017 Legislation page for links to key bills, descriptions of changes and a link to Bill Pargaman's comprehensive legislative update.  Glenn Karisch's legislative update will be posted when it is available.


Fixing or killing off broken trusts

What do you do if a trust drafted 20 years ago no longer works?  A beneficiary may think her trust "doesn't work" because she isn't getting as much money as she wants from the trustee.  That trust may be working precisely the way its creator or settlor intended, even if the beneficiary is unhappy.  But what if the trust provisions impede the administration of the trust?  What if the trust will disqualify the beneficiary from receiving governmental benefits like Medicaid unless its terms are changed?

It has become increasingly apparent that there must be ways to modify or terminate irrevocable trusts in certain situations.  Court decisions and statutes provide ways to make changes to trust terms or terminate the trust if appropriate.

Fixing or Killing Off Broken Trusts is Glenn Karisch's paper on modifying and terminating trusts in Texas.  It was presented to the State Bar's Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Law Course on June 23, 2016.  It discusses judicial and nonjudicial modifications and terminations and rescission of trusts.  Some techniques are tried and true, while others (like decanting) are just beginning to be widely used.

The paper also addresses several thorny issues, including the possible duty of a trustee to seek judicial modification or termination of a trust if certain facts exist.  Finally, it offers drafting suggestions intended to avoid the need for court action to change trusts in the future.

The latest version of the paper is available here. The slides used at the June 23, 2016 presentation are available here.