In Texas, going through probate can either be relatively simple or incredibly complex, depending on the decedent’s assets, the potential beneficiaries involved, and the estate documents that the decedent left behind. On today’s blog, we cover several frequently asked questions that our clients bring to the table, in the hopes that we can make the process a bit more straightforward for you.
What is Probate?
Probate is the administration of a decedent’s will or estate documents. In general, when a person dies, that person’s will must be approved by a probate court before the beneficiaries can have access to his or her assets. In Texas, the probate process can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.
Is Probate Mandatory?
In Texas, every individual’s estate must pass through probate, although there are some ways to avoid probate altogether. For example, by creating a trust or by acquiring assets jointly with another person, you may be able to avoid having your assets go through the probate court. Every person’s estate is unique, and the possibilities for avoiding probate depend heavily on the nature and complexity of the assets involved.
What Happens if My Loved One Dies Without a Will?
If there is no will or estate document in play, the probate process can be more complicated. The probate court will likely begin by making a declaration of heirship, which essentially means that the court puts on the record a list of the decedent’s heirs. The court will then divide the estate “intestate”, which means the estate will pass to the decedent’s closest family members. If the decedent does not have immediate family members, the estate will pass to distant family members, then possibly to the State itself.
Overall, it is difficult to create boilerplate answers for probate questions because every person’s process will be individually tailored to his or her circumstances. If you have specific questions about probate, we recommend speaking with an estate planning attorney who can help you look at your assets, formulate a plan, and execute accordingly. By retaining an expert or team of experts, you can make sure your loved ones are well-protected long after you are gone.
Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, navigating probate in Texas is our area of expertise. We help clients every day figure out how to move through the process as efficiently as possible, taking care to ensure that their assets are safeguarded. Our team has 35 years of experience, and we are eager to leverage our experience to help you. If you or a loved one is looking for representation, call our firm today at 713-936-9073. If you prefer, you can also fill out our online form to have an attorney reach out to you as soon as possible.