Terry Lynn Garrett

Terry Lynn Garrett

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  • Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate
  • New York, Texas
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Terry Garrett advises people in Central Texas who are preparing for and enjoying their retirement years and people with special needs and their families. Her clients range from couples who are just starting out and people who want to stay in charge during retirement to families with multinational businesses. Having worked and studied in Asia for many years, she also enjoys advising on transnational planning. Terry Garrett graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean's List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Melon Fellowship. She attended the Harvard Law School Negotiation Program and earned every certificate offered by the New York Institute of Finance. She is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations and a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is an Approved Guardianship Attorney and is appointed by Central Texas courts in heirship proceedings. She handles pro bono cases for Volunteer Legal Services, the Austin Bar Association and the Women's Resource Fair. Mother of a child with special needs, she also teaches for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Over the years she has volunteered for the Council on Adoptable Children, the AFS foreign exchange student program, Cornell Cares, Hands on Housing and as an officer of the Harmony PTO.

Practice Areas
  • Estate Planning
  • Elder Law
  • Probate
Additional Practice Area
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
New York
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
Professional Experience
The Garrett Law Firm, PLLC
Columbia University
J.D. (1983) | law
Honors: Parker Award, Mellon Fellowship
Activities: President, International Law Society; International Law Review, Environmental Law Review; Chinese and Japanese law study groups
Professional Associations
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
Texas State Bar # 24048146
- Current
Austin Bar Association
- Current
Websites & Blogs
Legal Answers
377 Questions Answered

Q. Will it still be the same if the house not paid for yet? I already assumed the loan it's just the deed part
A: Your question is not clear. Will what still be the same?
Q. My mother died without a will, I want the house it's 5 of us and one won't sign. Do she has to sign? She is a crack head
A: No one is obliged to sell or gift their inheritance or any other property. But if you file an Application for Determination of Heirship and Letters of Administration, after the court rules, you can file an Application for Partition and try to buy out the interest of the other heirs.
Q. My mother passed 11/17. I was durable POA. House for sale prior to passing. House is now in contract. Can house sell?
A: A Power of Attorney only has legal effect while the person who granted it is alive. It does not give you any authority to sign the closing documents now that your mother is dead. Take your mother's Will to a local probate lawyer. There is a way to probate (prove) Wills which do not name an executor or grant a power of sale. There is also a way to probate an estate when there is no Will. The court will appoint an executor of the Will with authority to sell property.
Q. My mom died in 2005. We could only find an unsigned will by her. Our father passed earlier
A: An unsigned Will is of no legal effect. If there are two witnesses who would not inherit and who can testify as to the family composition, you might be able to file an Affidavit of Heirship in the deed records and then have all the other siblings deed their interests to the one. Please keep in mind that title insurance is not likely to be available for a year and that the courts will not enforce an Affidavit of Heirship until it has been of record for five years with no one complaining that it is incorrect. If all that was left was the home, no more than $60,000 in personal goods and household effects, no more than $75,000 in other assets and no debt not secured by real estate, and all the heirs are willing, they can file an Affidavit of Small Estate promising to pay any debts and to divide the property according to the Texas Laws of Descent and Distribution. Then, once again, all the other siblings can deed their interests to the one.
Q. My Father died Nov. 8,2017 I have had a will from him since Sept. 2010. He died in Abilene, Tx. I live in S.C.
A: Hire a probate lawyer in the county in which your father died (and/or owned real property) to present the Will for probate and, if your sister has presented what you believe to be a fake Will, to contest that. Inform the Texas probate lawyer that he may need to call the lawyer who said "no" as a witness. Most of all, take care of your health.
Q. My father passed in 2007. His notarized will bequests - if his surviving wife should remarry-(she did in 2008)
A: If your father's will was properly executed, witnessed and notarized, it can still be submitted for probate -- but only as a muniment (defense) of title. That means that it can be used to transfer title to property. Your stepfather's life and death have nothing to do with this. If the person who has the will has not submitted it for probate, that person cannot apply to do so now. But someone who is not at fault for failing to submit it for probate (you?) may do so.
Q. Proving marital fraud
A: Hire a local probate lawyer to file an Application for Determination of Heirship and Letters of Independent Administration. She will have to prove that HE intended to be married and that HE held out to others that they were.
Q. Texas. Single father without a will dies. Do his 2 daughters get all his belongings?
A: When someone in Texas dies without a Will, if the heirs are adults and there is little property and no debt not secured by real estate, they may be able to file an Affidavit of Small Estate, promising to pay any outstanding debts. Since both daughters are minor children, the mother should hire a local probate attorney to file an Application for Determination of Heirship and Letters Testamentary. It may be that the two daughters are the only heirs. The court must make sure and, because they are minors, make sure that their interests are protected.
Q. What can happen to a house that has a lean on it if the name on the house title is changed?
A: Liens are typically paid off out of the sale proceeds when property title passes. If property is inherited, the lender has a choice of foreclosing or collecting from the estate. If there was no Will, there should be an Application for Determination of Heirship and Letters of Administration. People do not inherit property free of the liens which already exist.
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The Garrett Law Firm, PLLC
4408 Spicewood Springs, Suite 413
Austin, TX 78759
Telephone: (512) 800-2420
Fax: (512) 870-9260