In Texas, it is a general requirement that a decedent’s estate plan must go through probate before beneficiaries inherit the property, assets, or debts that their loved one left behind. There are ways to avoid probate, however – some of which we have focused on in this blog. Avoiding probate is an important goal for many families, because probate can be both costly and time-consuming. For those Texans whose estates qualify as a “small estate”, the probate process can be greatly simplified, saving everyone time, money, and resources during a difficult time.
What is a Small Estate Affidavit?
In Texas, there are several requirements that an individual must meet before filing a small estate affidavit. The person’s assets, first and foremost, must add up to $75,000 or less (not including certain exempt property). The person must have died without a will, and the person’s assets must be greater than his or her debts. A court must approve a person’s small estate affidavit after he or she files it, allowing the court to review the forms and make sure everything is above board.
What Are the Benefits of Filing a Small Estate Affidavit?
If you file a small estate affidavit, you essentially communicate to the probate court that the estate in question does not need to go through all of the steps that other, perhaps more complex, estates must go through. Once you file, you may or may not have to appear in probate court for a hearing. Some counties will approve the affidavit without a hearing, and others will require the filer to come in and speak with the judge.
Once your affidavit is approved, the decedent’s assets can be distributed. Overall, this is a fast and affordable way to get property into the hands of beneficiaries, and it cuts down on the time needed for probate. Attorneys are not necessary to fill out the small estate affidavit, but it can be beneficial to speak with an expert to make sure every procedural requirement is taken care of.
Probate can bring unwanted complications into loved ones’ lives, especially in a time that already involves grief and difficult decisions. By looking into the small estate affidavit, you can introduce the possibility of making things easier for all of a decedent’s beneficiaries and loved ones after he or she is gone.
Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney in Houston?
For all of your estate planning needs, contact McCulloch & Miller, an estate and probate firm backed by 35 years of experience serving our Houston community. We offer expert services, holistic representation, and peace of mind for you and your family. We also handle probate matters, Medicaid planning, and business succession planning. For a consultation with a member of our team, call us today at 713-955-7281. You can also fill out our online form to have an attorney contact you as soon as possible.