When you pass away, your estate may go through probate, which is a court-supervised process allowing for the transfer of ownership to your heirs and other beneficiaries. If you completed a comprehensive estate plan, the probate process can be relatively straightforward or avoided altogether.
If you are concerned about your wishes being carried out upon your death, or you are an heir who needs assistance with the probate process, Anderson Estate Planning in Texas is here to help. Contact us at (469) 207-1529 for a consultation.
What Does a Probate Attorney Do?
Part of the role of a probate attorney is to help ensure surviving family members and other designated beneficiaries receive a decedent’s assets and debts associated with the estate are settled. The probate process involves:
- Assisting the executor or administrator of the estate with the preparation and filing of the required document with the probate court,
- Helping to secure property appraisals
- Counselling the executor or administrator regarding taxes due by the estate
- Providing advice about the distribution of the estate
Probate lawyers also may help clients complete their estate planning, including the drafting of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid probate by using living trusts, joint ownership accounts, and other financial vehicles that don’t require probate proceedings.
The probate process is different depending upon whether an individual dies with or without a will. Several other variables also can make probate more complicated. A simple estate without many assets can go through the process within a relatively short time, while more complex estates may take years.
The steps for completion of probate will generally follow this order:
- If there is a will it is filed with the court.
- There is a hearing to validate the will and appoint an executor. If there is no will, there will be a hearing to appoint an administrator of the estate.
- The executor or administrator must submit an inventory of all the decedent’s assets to the county clerk.
- Creditors are identified and notified.
- The beneficiaries designated in the will are notified. If there is no will, the court affirms legal heirs according to the intestacy laws of Texas.
- Property and assets are appraised.
- All taxes and debts are paid from the proceeds of the estate.
- If there are any disputes, they are resolved during the probate process.
- The remaining assets in the estate are distributed to the beneficiaries/heirs.
The foregoing steps are not representative of the many variables that may make the probate process much more complex.
How to Determine If You Need a Probate Lawyer
Most people find it helpful to work with a probate lawyer if the assets in the estate are significant enough that the estate does not qualify for simplified probate procedures. Even if an estate can be administered with the simplified procedures, the process can still be confusing, and executors often find it reassuring to work with a probate lawyer to avoid costly mistakes and make sure they handle taxes, debts, and other issues properly.
If an estate is particularly large or complex, the court may require the use of an attorney. Legal assistance is also highly advisable if someone is likely to contest the will or other issues. However, the best way to determine whether you need a probate lawyer is to talk to one. They can review the circumstances and tell you what you are likely to face, and you can decide whether you are prepared to take on the responsibility on your own or would prefer to have a probate lawyer handle issues on your behalf.
Contact Anderson Estate Planning for a Consultation
The team at Anderson Estate Planning is dedicated to helping Texas families with their estate planning and probate needs. Because we are passionate advocates for our clients, we have a track record of success. To learn more and discover how we can help you, contact us at (469) 207-1529 for a consultation.