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
Property disputes in probate typically arise from one of these two factors:
1. The person died without a will, leaving no instructions about how real property and other assets should be distributed.
2. The will is being contested by a family member or other beneficiary.
We recommend you consult with a probate attorney, initially, to determine if you’ll be dealing with a contested or uncontested probate. Probate attorneys are extremely helpful when estates are large or complicated, or when there is a dispute about who should receive a decedent’s assets. If there are debts or taxes associated with the estate, a probate lawyer can help settle these issues.
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.