23+ Years as a practicing Probate and Guardianship Lawyer.
I earned my undergraduate degree from Texas Tech and my law degree from St. Mary's. I have spent my entire professional career practicing probate and guardianship law in Texas - 23 years of experience. In fact, Bexar County records show I have been attorney of record in more than twice as many probate matters than any of my 3 opponents and more than 100 more than all 3 of them combined. I want to put that experience to work as Probate Judge. Probate matters come at very difficult times for families, and as a probate attorney I have found great satisfaction in helping my clients navigate what can be a very complicated process. Nothing beats actually representing clients in probate court as a measure of experience for this job.. We do not want to elect a family law lawyer who has handled an occasional probate matter as a Probate Judge. I want to put my 23 years of in-court experience to work for the people of Bexar County as their Probate Judge and would be honored to do.
Bexar County Probate Court No. 2 duties include guardianship cases and I believe my focus on probate and guardianship law for the past 23 years gives me unique experience in dealing with these types of cases and I want to ensure fair and compassionate treatment for Wards and their families under the law. These people MUST be treated with respect by the Courts and I will insist upon it as Judge of Bexar County Probate Court No. 2.
Yes, for sure. Again, probate matters can be very complex and come at very difficult times for those having to deal with them. Public outreach programs that the court can spearhead, such as simple will clinics, for example, are great ways to help make the probate process easier for people by being better educated and prepared before the need arises. I would also like to explore the idea of "sponsoring" occasional free public seminars to educate the public on the need for pre-planning and what options are available. We have a great probate bar in San Antonio that I feel would jump at the chance to participate in providing this public service if it were organized and handled correctly.
Licensed to practice law for 21 years. I worked with my father for 2 years in private practice focused on probate matters. I was Staff Attorney for Probate Court No. 1 for just shy of 6 years. I worked for Judge Polly Jackson Spencer. I then moved to the trust department at Broadway Bank where I have worked on trusts and estates for 13+ years.
I believe my experience in the court and as a fiduciary has prepared me to be a probate judge. I have first hand knowledge of how the court functions. I know exactly what faces me there starting on day one. As a fiduciary (trustee/executor) I am held to the highest standard of care under the law. I must be impartial in my action and my decisions - just as a judge must do. I also have a duty of loyalty which means that I can have no conflicts of interest with the people I serve - the same is true for a judge. I have the knowledge, compassion and work ethic to be a successful and productive probate judge.
I have just completed a 9 year term on the Board of Directors for the Arc of San Antonio. I am aware of the issues facing our special needs community. I have been amazed by the participants there and their gifts and abilities. I would like for there to be at least yearly communication (if possible) from anyone under guardianship to the court. The court hears from the guardian at least once a year on the condition of the person under guardianship. It would be great to also hear from the person themselves. We need to be sure that they are happy and healthy and receiving the care and information that they need from their guardian and the court.
I am a big believer in planning. I want to educate the public on ways to plan for incapacity and death. The court can decide what will happen in these cases if people do not. But, I believe most people would like to make these decisions for themselves while they are able.
I know that the court does help the public on a daily basis with matters. I know when I worked there we received calls daily from people needing assistance. But, more proactive education could be offered. The court cannot give legal advice but we could explain processes and how to find an attorney or entity for assistance. The matters touched in probate court are very important and personal to the community. A better understanding of these matters may make the situation more bearable for people who have lost a loved one or need to navigate the guardianship process or mental health system.
(Please note on my website, it is https: not http:)
More than 30 years experience in Probate Law as an attorney and mediator in San Antonio handling probate, trusts, real estate, property disputes, and guardianship cases, as well as experience in mental health cases and appeals. Former briefing attorney for the 4th Court of Appeals and former graduate student research assistant in probate law, she assisted in writing a Wills textbook for law students. Laura D. Heard has a broad range of experience in every aspect of probate law.
I have a lifelong passion for helping people who are grieving the death or guardianship of a loved one. I have legal experience, life experience, and a calm judicial demeanor. My calling is in Isaiah 1:17, which speaks of justice for the fatherless and widows. In the last 30 years, I have served as guardian ad litem on hundreds of cases for elderly and children in San Antonio, and for some I have been the only constant in their legal affairs for decades. As an attorney in contested litigation, I know how important it is for the litigant to feel the Judge has listened to their case, and I am a good listener. Further, I have a proven record of diligence since I earned the top 10% rank of my law school class in 1987. I have worked for the 4th Court of Appeals and have taught probate. I mediate probate disputes,write wills, and have filed hundreds of cases in probate court.I have integrity and compassion. I have the most well-rounded and longest probate experience of any candidate.
I have been appointed to represent people on the mental health docket in the past and know that the mentally disabled need patience and a calm influence in court. I also have a vision of seeking a partnership with the graduate students studying social work in various universities in San Antonio, to provide more assistance in a program similar to CASA (child advocates), with trained, supervised volunteers to provide more insight into the individual cases on the mental health and guardianship dockets. I will be working on the possibility of a foundation of private donors who could help set up such a program.
Absolutely! There is always room for improvement in communication and probate education. As our society has now obtained almost universal access to the internet, more can be done on the Court’s website, and videos can be made available online to help educate the public. As judge, I would be available to speak to groups and I will be looking for every opportunity to improve interactions with the public.For many people, probate is their first time in court. They need a Judge who will put them at ease and make them feel safe.I believe strongly in the importance of treating all the persons before the Court, including lawyers, with dignity and respect. I have empathy for others because I too have known the heartache of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s. I am dedicated to following the law strictly, but with compassion, and I will work diligently to set a standard of excellence in the courtroom. As I stated earlier, listening has always been my strength. People need to be HEARD in court.
As a UT business and law school graduate, I am (a) the only candidate board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in any area of the law, (b) the only CPA, with accounting knowledge and experience essential to many probate cases / disputes, (c) a candidate with extensive trial experience, (d) a candidate rated A-V Preeminent® by Martindale.com (i.e., the top-peer review ratings, in legal abilities and ethics) by his peers (including local judges and attorneys), and (e) the only candidate for this court with prior judicial experience as a former Associate Bexar County Probate Court Judge. As an active Lector and Eucharistic minister of my church, a volunteer mediator and, like my wife and family, a volunteer in many organizations, I am passionately active in our community to help those in need.
I have been a practicing attorney for over 36 years, and I have served the court as a staff attorney and as a former associate judge for both Bexar County Probate Court No. 1 and 2. This uniquely qualifies me for this position, but there is more. As a board certified family law attorney, a certified family mediator, a CPA and an experienced lawyer, I have the unique experience of having handled successfully thousands of matters involving families, and the probate court is in fact a “family court” involving entire families from guardianship disputes regarding which family member will care for a disabled mother/father/child or other relative to how to carry out the final wishes of a deceased family member. I have the passion and desire to serve our community, especially those in need of the services of this court, and to help families resolve these issues either by trial or an alternative to trial.
The first way to improve the court's relationship with the mentally disabled is to work tirelessly to remove the stigma of mental illness. The second is to distribute information on what the court can do for their mental health, including distributing information on resources that are available, encouraging a person with a mental challenge to obtain help, encouraging them to not ignore advice of medical professionals and encouraging affected persons to maintain their treatment including taking prescription medications and avoiding all forms of self medication. The third is to work with mental health professionals to ensure that people taken into a mental health facility are not just returned to the community without the filled prescriptions for medication that a person diagnosed with a mental disability needs to take on a regular basis. Far too many mentally challenged individuals are released with a paper prescription that is not filled and they do not receive the medicine they need.
Yes. The Court has an education fund that would allow it to provide for information on the court, which hears primarily 5 subject matters that affect the public. These are: probate, guardianship, trusts, mental health and eminent domain. With education, there are ways for the public to avoid or limit all of these dockets, especially guardianship by the proper preparation of documents that would not only help our Bexar County citizens avoid guardianship, but allow them to pick the person(s) of trust who can help them in time of their greatest need. This is also true for public education in probate and trusts on the nature and extent of the benefits of the probate and trusts in efficiently handling their last wishes. Finally, in the area of mental health, the court could help educate the public on the resources to help those who are mentally challenged and their families, who are on many occasions desperate for help with their needs and the needs of a mentally challenged family member.