Answers to your legal questions


I have a common law marriage in Texas. We will soon be moving to another state. Will we still be married?


As I have said many times before, a common law marriage is no different than any other form of marriage. Once you are common law married, you are married, just as if you had a formal ceremony in a church or before a justice of the peace. When you move to another state your status as being married remains intact. For example, if you want to terminate your relationship in that state you will have to obtain a divorce.


Does a will have to be notarized to be valid? Can I just make a handwritten will?

ANSWER: A handwritten will, known as a holographic will, does not have to be notarized. A holographic will is valid if it is completely written in your own handwriting and signed. A formal will needs two witnesses, and most are notarized. The notary's form, called a self-proving affidavit, is not required but it makes it easier and less expensive to probate the will.


Can my neighbor take things out of my garbage? I don't want him going through my trash.

ANSWER: As a matter of law, the garbage is yours. Unless you agree, it would be trespassing to go on your property and theft to take it. On the other hand, most people probably consider their trash to be "abandoned" and that would mean that anyone who wanted it could take it. I suggest you let the neighbor know that you consider your garbage to belong to you, until the trash man picks it up.

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