Many beneficiaries to a person’s will find themselves becoming familiar with the probate process once they try to access the funds that their loved one has left behind. It can be important to understand the probate process because it is often the vehicle through which a decedent’s assets are passed on, but it can be complicated and, at times, litigious. At McCulloch & Miller, we are committed to making sure all of our clients understand the probate process so that they can know what will happen with their assets (or the assets of their loved ones) in the future.
The Definition of Probate
Probate is the process of managing and administering the property, money, stocks, or other assets in a decedent’s estate. When a person leaves behind a will and asks that their estate be passed along to their named beneficiaries, that estate often must be reviewed by a probate court before the beneficiaries can access the assets. Typically, those involved in probate are the judge, the personal representative of the decedent, and those entitled to receive the decedent’s assets.
What Does Probate Involve?
The first step in the probate process is for the court to receive a petition for probate, indicating that someone has died and that their assets need dividing. At that point, the court mails notice to all named beneficiaries to let them know that the probate process has begun.
The court must also determine if the decedent’s will is valid. Ensuring you have a valid will is best done through the support of an experienced attorney, so that the will you have put together can pass through this essential step. If the will is valid, the court then interprets the will and begins to administer the property according to the will’s terms.
As the process goes on, the decedent’s representative pays taxes and debts pending on the decedent’s estate. The court also deals with any possible conflict that arises, which can be especially common when multiple people believe they are entitled to the same part of the decedent’s property.
When an individual dies and there is no will, the court does its best under the circumstances by appointing a representative for the decedent. That representative then works in conjunction with the court to figure out how to divide the decedent’s assets.
The probate process can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to complete. To ensure that things run smoothly, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to hire an estate planning attorney that can ensure everything happens as efficiently and accurately as possible within the probate process.
Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we offer you and your family peace of mind as we prepare your estate plan and make sure that plan is executed thoroughly. If you are looking for a Houston estate planning attorney with experience, comprehensive strategies, and unmatched efficiency, give us a call today. Our phone number is 713-597-7176. You can also reach out by using the online form on our website.