Thomas M. Featherston, Jr.
The Mills Cox Chair of Law

Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben says, "A person cannot work with trust and estate or marital property law in Texas without seeing his handiwork." He is Tom Featherston, the Mills Cox Professor of Law and 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Probate Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given by the Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Featherston has been involved with trusts and estates law since he was a young lawyer with Butler, Binion, Rice, Cook & Knapp in Houston and was assigned to the T&E section of the firm.

"During my interview, I said that I liked Loy Simpkins" trusts and estates class that I was taking, and that was the area of practice I was assigned when I joined the firm," he said. "I enjoy this area of the law because you help solve people's problems during one of the biggest crises in their lives "the death of a loved one."

A frequent presenter at CLE events across the country that deal with marital property rights and trusts and estates. Featherston is a regular participant in the State Bar's annual Advanced Estate Planning and Probate Course, Advanced Drafting: Estate Planning and Probate Course and the Advanced Estate Planning Strategies Course, as well as other programs sponsered by the University of Texas, South Texas College of Law, the American Bar Association and other CLE providers.

Some of Featherston's most high-profile work has been on Texas legislation that deals with the subjects he teaches-marital property and trusts and estates. In the 1980s, he served as chairman of the State Bar committee tasked to revise the Texas guardianship statutes. In the 1990s, he served as chairman of the committee that revised the claims procedures of the Texas Probate Code.

More recently, he co-chaired the State Bar's cooperative efforts with the Texas Legislature's Legislative Council in re-codifying the Texas Probate Code, the first and most comprehensive change in the statutory law affecting decedents' estates in more than 50 years. Featherston also provided oversight for two bar committees charged with drafting new substantive law legislation in the area of probate court venue and jurisdiction and independent administration and served as the academic resource for the Texas Legislative Council as issues were raised during the non-substantive new probate code drafting process. The new Texas Estates Code went into effect in 2014.

Featherston also participates in committee work for the American Bar Association, where he served on the governing council of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section. He also has served as the Trusts and Estates editor of Probate & Property, the section's magazine, since 1999.

Since 2009 he has served on the faculty of the annual Skills Training for Estate Planners program sponsored by the Real Property, Trust Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association. This week long program held in New York City is designed to assist practicing lawyers from around the country transition into the estate planning practice. Professor Featherston typically lectures for two-three hours during the week on a variety of topics such as how the federal transfer tax system operates, what lawyers in common law states need to know about community property and professional responsibility issues. While participating in the 2011 program, Professor Featherston and his wife attended the Yankees game when Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit.

He is also active in the leadership of the Real Estate, Probate & Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, having chaired numerous committees, served on its governing council and presided as the chair of the section in 1997-1998. For years, he also co-chaired the Southwestern Legal Foundations annual Wills and Probate Institute in Dallas.

Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Featherston was elected as an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel in 1991 and as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 1993. He was named Outstanding Baylor University Professor in 2000. He also has received the Journal Award of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Continuing Legal Education from the State Bar College.

In addition to serving as the Trusts and Estates Articles Editor for Probate & Property, he co-authors West's Texas Practice Guide- Probate on an annual basis. Featherston also authored the first edition of Questions and Answers: Wills, Trusts & Estates, published by LexisNexis, co-authored the second edition, and authored its third edition in 2014.

Featherston earned his J.D. with highest honors from Baylor Law School in 1972 after receiving his B.B.A. from Baylor University in 1971. After graduation, he entered private practice in Houston from 1972 through 1982. He joined Baylor Law School in 1982 and was appointed the Mills Cox Chair in 1990.

He and his wife, Sherry, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

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Thomas M. Featherston, Jr.

The Mills Cox Chair of Law


Courses Taught
Administration of Estates
Administration of Estates Capstone
Estate Planning
Trusts & Estates
Trusts & Estates Capstone
Wealth Transfers


Email: Tom_Featherston@baylor.edu
Phone: 254.710.3611

Publications

His, Her Or Their Property: A Primer On Marital Property Law In The Community Property States, July 2014

The Tedder Case and Its Impact One The Post Death Administration Of The Deceased Spouse's Estate, June 2014

Asset Protection Planning - - Getting Ready For Marriage in Texas, September 2013

Creditors' Rights In And To The Marital Estate: What Property Is Liable For Which Debts?, June 2013

Protecting Assets Fo Intended Beneficiaries - Marital Property Concerns, May 2013

The Necessaries Doctrine and Spouses' Mutual Duty of Support, April 2013

Protecting Assets For Intended Beneficiaries - Marital Property Concerns, April 2013

Marital Property Liability Law, September 2012

Marital Property Obstacles/Opportunities in Testamentary Planning, August 2012

Marital Property Characterization and Reimbursement and Fraud on the Community, April 2012

From "Prenups" to "Portability" - A Fresh Look at Marital Property Planning, September 2011

Wills and Revocable Trusts - What's Best for the Client?, August 2011

Nonprobate and Probate Dispositions of Community Property, September 2010

Representing the Surviving Spouse: A Handbook for the Lawyer of the Decedent's Spouse, June 2010

Property of the Bankruptcy Estate (What Comes in Under the Section 541(a)(2) Tent), May 2010

Marital Property Liabilities Dispelling the Myth of Community Debt, Texas Bar Journal, January 2010

Marital Property Liabilities: Dispelling the Myth of the Community Debt(Handling the Debts of the Surviving Spouse Following the Death of the First Spouse), June 2009.

Nonprobate Dispositions of Community Property, September 2009

Texas Family Property: Integrating Trusts and Estate and Marital Property Laws, June 2008

How the Legislature Has Changed Your Documents, August 2008