(Note: As I accept done in accomplished elections, I am alive a alternation of Q&As for authoritative candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is advised to advice acquaint the candidates and their adventures to those who plan to vote in March. I am alive these responses in the adjustment that I accept them from the candidates. You can see added Q&As and added advice about authoritative candidates on my 2018 Authoritative page.
1. Who are you and what are you alive for?
James S. Horwitz, and I am a Democratic applicant on the March 6, 2018 primary election for the Adjudicator for Harris Canton Probate Cloister #4.
2. What affectionate of cases does this cloister hear?
Unfortunately as we all apprentice sometimes too soon, action is bound and will ultimately end in death. Additionally, age, diseases, and injuries appulse our abilities to be cocky sufficient. Our society, as represented by our legislature, angled that for these reasons, all of us could use abetment in managing some or all of our circadian diplomacy and ultimately our acreage afterwards our death. These activities are generally managed by the action of Probate Courts. The Texas Constitution grants the Texas Assembly the ascendancy to actuate which cloister handles probate matters.
As a aftereffect of the efforts of our Texas Legislature, 10 of the 15 bigger counties (specifically including Harris County) accept Probate Courts. These Probate Courts handle affairs of (i) the administering of the administering of the assets of a decedent (one who has died), (ii) administering issues, (iii) issues apropos trusts; and (iv) in this Harris Canton Probate Cloister # 4, the assurance of automatic commitments of individuals to brainy bloom institutions.
In attention to the administering of the administering of the assets of a decedent (one who has died), the Cloister must:
(1) attending to the laws of coast and administering if one has died afterwards a Will such as by acceding an Adjustment of Administration; and(2) accord authoritative approval to the claimed adumbrative to administrate affairs of the estate;and(3) actuate the ascendancy of Wills; and(4) accomplish orders apropos the accoutrement of a accurate Will (by arising the Adjustment Admitting a Will to Probate); and(5) aphorism on issues of aperture of fiduciary duties by executors and administrators of estates.
Because Texas utilizes absolute administering of a decedent’s estate, already an applicant’s paperwork has been presented to the Cloister and approved, that actuality as a adumbrative of the Decedent’s acreage can accomplish chargeless of any added involvement/supervision by the Probate Court. The all-inclusive majority of cases (90%) afore the Probate Cloister are of this attributes which allows the Cloister to accomplish in abandoned an authoritative function.
In contested affairs involving probate with a Will, a Probate Cloister (1) examines the actuality of a Will; and/or (2) whether the Will was fabricated beneath bondage or that the Will is not the aftermost Will accounting by the asleep person. It is the job of the Probate Cloister to adjudge which Will is authentic. Already that assurance is made, the Probate Cloister appoints an Abettor to accomplish the agreement of the Will. In abounding cases, an Abettor is alleged in the Will and the cloister appoints that person. The Abettor again executes the Will according to the asleep person’s wishes as declared in his/her Will.
When age, diseases, and injuries appulse our abilities to be cocky sufficient, the enactment of a administering can occur. A administering is a accord accustomed by a Probate Cloister amid the actuality who needs advice – alleged a area – and the actuality or article alleged by the cloister to advice the ward. This actuality or article is accepted as a guardian. In Texas, a actuality does not accept a guardian until an appliance to accredit one is filed with the court, a audition is captivated and a adjudicator again appoints a guardian. Back the cloister arrangement is made, the actuality the guardian cares for becomes the ward. There are altered types of guardianships accessible in Texas. They are:
• Guardian of the person, abounding or limited• Guardian of the estate, abounding or limited.• Guardian of the actuality and estate.• Temporary guardianship.
In accession to individuals, entities and administering programs can be appointed guardians. Guardians accept acknowledged responsibilities and are appropriate to accomplish assertive tasks and accomplish letters to the Cloister while accouterment abetment to their wards.
The Probate Cloister should attending at the individuals and programs accommodating to be guardians and abject the arrangement of guardians on several factors including: a alternative to appointing a condoning ancestors affiliate or addition admired one such as a accomplice as guardian rather than administering programs or cloister appointed attorneys. The Probate Cloister additionally should authorize how abundant abandon a area may accept to accomplish his/her own decisions. The Probate Cloister should adjudge limitations on a guardian’s authority.
Finally this accurate probate cloister has a brainy bloom calendar that can actuate back association are incapaciated and charge analysis to assure themselves from harming themselves or the accessible from possibly actuality afflicted from such an individual.
3. Why are you alive for this accurate bench?
Civic assurance and association captivation accept been an basic allotment of my accessible action back college. I see my job as a adjudicator to be the accustomed progression of my abilities to abide to advice the community. I accept in ensuring the law is deservedly and candidly applied. I additionally accept we should seek agency of abbreviation costs for parties defective to arise afore the Probate Court, such as auspicious added mediation. However, a altered aspect of my belvedere is alive to actualize added association outreach. A Probate Adjudicator should be candid but not abandoned from the association that elects he or she. As a clandestine advocate for added than 40 years I accept assisted individuals advance their acreage affairs utilizing Wills, Trusts, Admiral of Advocate and added accessory abstracts all-important for a absolute acreage plan. My belvedere as a applicant for the probate bank is to aggrandize that action to accommodate canton advanced activities. I accept the Probate Cloister should collaborate with the association far added than it currently does, with appropriate accent on assertive issues such as:
1. According to the acknowledged database Lexis Nexis, about two thirds of adults in Texas do not accept a will. In Texas, this is alleged dying intestate. Basically, if you do not accept a will, again the Accompaniment Assembly writes one for you. The “legislature-written will” tries its best to accomplish the person’s most-likely intent, but bodies are inherently altered and unique. A accepted affair is that a actuality who has a apron and two accouchement (born to that spouse)would not, beneath the “legislature-written will,” accord their absolute acreage to the widowed, alike admitting abounding ambitious testators would seek to do this if accustomed a chance. There cannot be an abettor if the actuality dies afterwards a will. The cloister charge accredit an ambassador instead, which generally requires approval from the cloister for a deluge of accepted acts. This can absorb admired money and time bigger served action to the deceased’s admired ones.
I appetite to advice the Harris Canton association address added wills. I anticipate the canton and the cloister arrangement affliction to be added alive in the community, auspicious association to address wills and be accustomed with the law.
If I could change the law, I would adopt for association who cannot acquiesce an advocate to be provided one by the Probate Cloister in adjustment to do things like address wills. But I am alive for the Bench, and not the Legislature, so I appetite to best acquaint people, if hiring a advocate is absurd for any reason, how to booty the best advantage of a law.
Texas embraces an old abstraction alleged the Holographic Will. This basically agency a handwritten will. In Texas, a will accounting absolutely in one’s own autography may be accepted to probate alike afterwards the byzantine formalities appropriate of type-written wills. This provides a cheaper advantage for those who may be economically clumsy to absorb an attorney.
I will advice the Harris Canton association apprentice how to address holographic wills, or academic wills, whichever individuals may prefer, so that their final wishes may be admired easier and cheaper than intestacy.
2. An obstacle that generally prevents folks, including those in our community, from gluttonous amends or remedies via the attorneys is the chain of rumors, which are generally incorrect. There is sometimes misconceptions about what the law says or what is excludes. In gluttonous out the community, I accurately appetite to advice belie assiduous myths.
For example, Estates Code §201.060 prevents bigotry adjoin brood or devisees (basically, anyone who stands to accept article through the probate process) based aloft their, to use the chat in the statute, “alienage.” Back the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, this accompaniment has eschewed the old accepted law aphorism that accustomed for inheritances abandoned to citizens. So whether or not addition is a aborigine is immaterial to whether or not they can inherit.
3. Additionally, there is no acknowledged prohibition adjoin autograph a will in a adopted language. Wills charge not be accounting in English in adjustment to be accepted to probate.
4. Addition affair in the association is that of Medical Admiral of Attorney, Abiding Admiral of Advocate and Advanced Directives (Living Wills). I ambition to bigger acquaint the association of what these abstracts mean, how to actualize them and why best association should accede application them.
This is addition archetype area I abhorrence rumors can dissuade association from active what are contrarily acute documents. For example, a Medical Ability of Advocate or an Advanced Directive does not necessarily beggarly you are acknowledging to addition “pulling the plug,” so to speak.
These abstracts can be as abundant as the actuality creating them wants them to be. They can absorb whatever admiral the architect wishes to be retained.
I generally say in my convenance that there are few things one can absolutely get their way. A cogent action that a actuality can accept their way is in attention to their acreage plan and probate matters. These forms do not box the architect into annihilation but what they choose, and are invaluable for authoritative decisions afterwards one is clumsy to do so.
5. Addition aspect of the Probate Cloister arrangement is the administering process. In Texas, if a actuality is accounted clumsy to affliction for him or herself, generally an aged or disabled person, again a guardian is appointed to affliction for that person. Best generally it is a ancestors affiliate or added aing friend, but sometimes, if none are accessible or the adjudicator thinks such choices are too risky, a guardian ad litem is provided. Such a guardian ad litem is a able paid for by the acreage assets.
There are sometimes abhorrence acceptance of abuses by such professionals. Fortunately, Harris Canton has a adequately able-bodied arrangement to catch bottomward on abuse, and entities such as the Senior Amends Assessment Center (SJAC) has arisen of backward to assure such bodies from abuses, carelessness and exploitation. Like added association projects, I accept that the best way to assure adjoin inequities is to be able in planning one’s estate. Designating agents in admiral of advocate (including a abiding or medical one) is one such opportunity.
But the adjudicator has acumen to actuate back accompany or ancestors are bereft guardians. I affiance to accomplish that assurance holistically, attractive at not aloof bread-and-er factors but amusing ones as well, in acceptance of what is in the best absorption of the ancestors overall.
4. What are your abilities for this job?
I accept accomplished law for added than forty years in Harris County, Texas. I accept represented bags of audience in attention to their acreage planning and their needs in Probate Cloister as able-bodied as at all levels of civil, corporate, criminal, family, adolescent and appellate courts in Harris County, as able-bodied as a aggregation of added counties in Texas. My all-encompassing accomplishments in ancestors law is a audible asset in probate assignment back the free the able assuming of association against abstracted acreage is capital back ambidextrous with intestate estates and the administering of such assets to ancestors of the asleep individual. The probate cloister additionally has circumstantial administration with the Civilian Courts involving issues such as blameworthy death/personal injuries that can affect a person’s acreage or able-bodied being. For added than four decades I accept represented individuals and families of individuals that accept been presented with such abhorrent circumstances. I accept handled all types of probate affairs again for added than 40 years. A acknowledged adjudicator should accommodate the qualities of experience, wisdom, benevolence and knowledge. I absolutely accept the acquaintance and ability abject from the decades of acknowledged practice. The advanced array of my acknowledged convenance has provided me with the acumen to accept all types of people, afresh divorced, accused criminals, business owners, disabled accouchement and aged parents all amid them. All of my adventures accommodate me with the wisdom, and I accept the compassion, to be a acknowledged judge. As I mentioned aloft in this questionnaire, the all-inclusive majority of assignment handled by the Probate Cloister is authoritative non-contested matters. It is back a amount is contested, defective a balloon that my continued acquaintance and acquired ability as a balloon advocate become so all-important to be a acknowledged judge.
Additionally, actuality complex in the association allowance to account the needs of those individuals that can be impacted by the Probate Cloister is a altered accomplishment for a probate judge. Having and assuming benevolence is in my assessment is a all-important additive for this probate bench. I assignment with families of disabled accouchement allowance those families get accurately allowable appropriate needs casework from the accessible school. I accept continuously formed as a advance at the Harris Center for Disabled Individuals. Afresh in 2017 because of my history of alive with incapaciated individuals, Commune Advocate Kim Ogg appointed myself and above Sheriff Adrian Garcia as Co-Chairs of Harris Canton Commune Advocate Kim Ogg’s brainy bloom issues in the angled amends arrangement alteration committee. I authored the address on this accountable which was presented to Commune Advocate Ogg.
5. Why is this chase important?
The Adjudicator charge be actual accustomed with the law and able to aphorism on acknowledged affairs including the accommodation of affirmation and the procedures appropriate to conduct trials and hearings. Uncontested affairs will be heard by a judge. Contested affairs will be heard by a trier of fact, either the adjudicator abandoned or by a jury.
If a amount is alone afore a judge, the adjudicator is the ultimate accommodation maker as to the believability of the affirmation presented. In that case no one abroad has added ability than the adjudicator as to the believability of the facts presented. In those instances, the adjudicator is the Supreme Cloister of the facts and the law of the case back the adjudicator charge adjudge whether affidavit is credible. As a judge, that actuality is an administrator and adumbrative of the government. He or she cannot acquiesce claimed or religious angle to billow one’s judgment. He or she charge advocate the law and administer them to all citizens equally. Having able individuals be on the bank in Harris County, Texas is appropriate in adjustment to assure the rights of all individuals that appear afore the Court. Ideology has no abode in our authoritative system.
For far too continued in Harris County, Texas , Republican board accept imposed their acceptance systems aloft our association that can appulse their decisions back on the bench. One charge to attending no added than the accommodation of the Republican board not to ally anyone. That accommodation is based aloft the actuality that if a adjudicator agrees to ally a couple, that brace ability be a aforementioned brace and the republican acquiescence in Harris Canton does not abutment aforementioned marriage. Imagine a aforementioned brace that accept not been formally affiliated and one of those individuals die afterwards a Will. A probate adjudicator afterwards an brainy angled could counterbalance the affirmation adequately in a assurance of whether the brace were accepted law married.
6. Why should bodies vote for you in the March primary?
Probate Court, as an authoritative court, has an almighty aerial allotment of accepted cases that are abandoned rubberstamped by the court. It is back there is a challenge that balloon acquaintance becomes so necessary. Back I began my acknowledged practice, my primary adversary hadn’t alike been born. Acquaintance counts. For forty years, I accept represented bags of audience in acreage planning and probate cloister as able-bodied as at all levels of the civil, criminal, family, and adolescent courts in Harris County, Texas, including additionally a aggregation of added jurisdictions in Texas. According to the commune and canton agent annal of Harris County, my primary adversary has not appeared in any civilian cases. Acumen counts. My complete acumen has been gleaned from over four decades of assignment accouterment abetment to individuals and their families through my adherence to quality, my compassionate of the foibles of people, and my compassionate of the law. Benevolence counts. I accept the action adventures that accept approved my affliction for the unfortunate, the disabled, and the grieving.
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