Under Texas law, the probate process is triggered when a person dies and leaves property without directly transferring ownership to another party. Probate is the process in which a court recognizes a person’s death, resolves debts, and distributes assets according to their will. If the decedent dies with a will, the estate’s representative or executor must file for probate. In situations where a person does not leave a will, the person’s assets and debts will go through intestacy laws.
The probate process requires a court to determine whether a will is valid. After hearing arguments on the will, the court will appoint a person to administer the estate and determine heirs. After determining heirs, the court will notify creditors of the death and allow them to file claims on any debts the estate may owe. After creditors make their claims, the court will distribute assets and resolve any disputes.
Families should understand that there are two main types of probate processes, “independent administration” and “dependent administration.” Independent administration cases tend to be quicker and less expensive. In most cases, however, the will must provide for independent administration. There are ways to get around this requirement if the lawyer or executor makes the appropriate argument to the court. On the other hand, dependent administration of estates occurs when there is any dispute regarding the beneficiaries or asset distribution.
Even the most straight-forward estate requires a nuanced understanding of complex state laws. Although Texas law does not require an attorney through probate proceedings, lawyers serve as invaluable resources during this process. The Houston probate process can be an overwhelming emotional and time-intensive process. This is especially true when a court will not allow non-attorneys to file applications or represent an estate during proceedings. Attorneys can provide families with critical information and guidance through this unfamiliar territory.
Family members and heirs can obtain significant benefits by working with a skilled probate attorney. These benefits range from making court appearances, filing applications, appraising estates, sending notices, and litigating issues. Individuals who do not retain an attorney will be responsible for these critical and time-sensitive tasks.
Do You Need Assistance with Probate in Texas?
If you or someone you love is considering creating an estate plan or is experiencing challenges during the probate process, contact the Houston estate planning law firm of McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. The attorneys at our law firm provide clients with assistance through estate planning, elder law issues, veterans benefits, crisis planning, probate administration, charitable planning, special needs planning, business succession, and asset protection. We understand the importance of comprehensive estate planning and work to ensure that our clients receive the protection they deserve while ensuring that they maintain their dignity. Our team takes a holistic approach to each client by providing comprehensive and dependable legal advice. Through our representation, clients have created binding care plans, effective wills, trusts, and received practical planning advice. Contact our office at 713-333-8900 to discuss your estate planning or elder law issues with an attorney at our firm.