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  • Writer's pictureChiang Law Firm

Updated: Sep 1, 2023


You might have noticed a new face and a return of a familiar face at Chiang Law Firm!


Tiffany Allen is the new full time Office Manager for Chiang Law Firm. Tiffany is a 2023 graduate of Alvin Community College with a 4.0 in Associates Degree of Applied Sciences - Paralegal and a Paralegal Certificate. She is an experienced law firm administrator and we are excited to have her join our firm!


Many of you will remember that Katie Master was our Office Manager, who recently left Chiang Law Firm to attend Law School at Texas Tech School of Law. She came back over the summer to be our Summer Law Clerk and as of this month has accepted a part time position at Chiang Law Firm as our law clerk while she is in Law School. Katie is currently a second year law student at Texas Tech School of Law and is a 2021 graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelor's of Science in Biochemistry. Katie was an outstanding member of our firm from 2021-2022 and we are pleased for her to return as a law clerk!


Please join me in welcoming these new faces the next time you're around the office.


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Jennifer C. Chiang of Chiang Law Firm, PLLC, has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell to receive the AV Preeminent Rating, which indicates a very high level of both legal ability and ethical standards. The AV Preeminent rating is awarded to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.


Born in Sugar Land, Texas, Jennifer Chiang has served clients for over a decade with their estate planning, probate, business, and real estate needs. Jennifer is also a community advocate and volunteer on several non-profit boards, including Trustee and Nominating Chair of the Texas Bar Foundation, Board Member of the Fort Bend Education Foundation and Board Member of the Fort Bend Children’s Advocacy Center Advisory Board. In 2014, Jennifer also served as a Commissioner of the City of Sugar Land Charter Commission. Jennifer is only one of a few people who are both a graduate of Sugar Land 101 and the Fort Bend Chamber Leadership Class of 2019. Jennifer was also honored by the Fort Bend Business Journal as one of Fort Bend’s Rising Stars in their May 2014 issue.


Marking many firsts, Jennifer is the first Asian American to serve as a Judge in Fort Bend County when she was appointed to serve as an Associate Judge for the Sugar Land Municipal Court in 2015. Since then, Jennifer has dedicated herself to being a fair and effective jurist for the Citizens of Sugar Land.


For more than 130 years, Martindale-Hubbell has been evaluating attorneys for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards through a Peer Review Rating system. Before the 1887 edition of Martindale’s American Law Directory, which was the first publication to provide such ratings to attorneys, there was no way of truly knowing if the lawyer you were considering doing business with was trustworthy, ethical, or skilled in the legal field. Today, Martindale-Hubbell continues to provide verified ratings for attorneys based not only on their legal ability and ethical standards as judged by their peers but also based on reviews from their clients. While the criteria and format of the Peer Review Rating system have evolved since the 1800s - the goal of Martindale-Hubbell ratings remains the same: to help keep the public informed when deciding whether or not to do business with an attorney or law firm.


For more information contact: Jennifer Chiang at 713-568-9206


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  • Writer's pictureChiang Law Firm

Updated: Jul 12, 2023


Congratulations! You purchased a house with your spouse. Now what?


Most people think that if you purchased a home with your spouse, and both of you are on the deed, then if one spouse dies the other spouse automatically inherits the whole house.


THIS IS NOT CORRECT.


If the deceased spouse passes away without a will then we have to look at the laws of intestacy. Depending on the family structure, the surviving spouse MIGHT inherit the other half of the house. However, if the deceased spouse had children from a previous relationship, Texas law says that the children will inherit, not a surviving spouse. As a result, I get to tell clients on a regular basis that the house that they bought with their late husband/late wife suddenly is co-owned by my client's step-children. As you can imagine, this can cause a lot of stress and strain on the family, especially when it is unexpected.


Even if your family situation is such that the laws of intestacy say the surviving spouse shall inherit the house, the transfer is not automatic. The laws in Texas require some kind of proof to show that the surviving spouse is the rightful heir, which might require some kind of probate or heirship to determine who the rightful heirs are. Again, this can be costly, time consuming and frustrating. See our blog post: What Happens if I Die Without a Will?


One solution for real estate specifically is a Transfer on Death Deed. Transfer on death deeds are deeds that name a beneficiary prior to death, and get filed in the County Clerk's records prior to death. They do not change how the home is owned while someone is alive. The transfer on death deed does not affect a mortgage, and any transfer is subject to the mortgage. Additionally, Transfer on Death Deeds are cancellable at any time, and are automatically cancelled when the property is sold. The benefit is that the Transfer on Death Deed will transfer the ownership of property without the need of of probate, and it can override the laws of intestacy.


The one caveat is that you need to tell your estate planning attorney if you already have a Transfer on Death Deed for your house because the Transfer on Death Deed can override any intentions you have in the Will, so the attorney needs to make sure your plan works with your Transfer on Death Deed. If the plan doesn't work with the old deed, the great news is that the attorney can cancel the Transfer on Death Deed and then figure out what the right strategy will be going forward.


I actually prefer Transfer on Death Deeds to create a non-probate estate over transferring a home to the trust. For one, because it doesn't transfer the ownership of a house to the trust, there will be no ownership change per the County Appraisal District. As such, clients will not need to refile for their homestead exemptions. Also, because the clients still own their home in their personal names, they will not need to transfer a home out of a trust to refinance in the future.


For a lot of my families, Transfer on Death Deeds are an important way to make sure that a surviving spouse gets to stay in the home, claim 100% of all the exemptions they are entitled to on the value of the home, as well as allow a spouse to refinance or sell a home in the future without having to get consent from other owners. It is also a convenient way to transfer the house to the second generation through a contingent beneficiary directly to the children, or transfer through a trust. Once the family home gets transferred through Transfer on Death Deed, very few families will need to go through a formal probate process, especially if they worked on naming Transfer on Death Beneficiaries on all their financial accounts prior to death. It helps create the much-desired non-probate estate without the need of a Revocable Living Trust. See our blog post: The Benefits of a Non-Probate Estate.


If you or someone you love needs a Transfer on Death Deed, please reach out Chiang Law Firm and set up a consultation today!



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