Estate Probate Attorney Serving McKinney & All Collin County
Texas Simplified Probate Process
is a complex area of the law. If you are going through the probate process, it is crucial that you hire an experienced probate attorney. The very basic definition of probate is the process of distributing the estate of someone who has passed to their descendants. It is a misconception that probate has to be a long, drawn-out, and expensive process. However, the probate system is intended to help heirs and beneficiaries clear title to assets as quickly as possible, and to prevent false claims against the decedent’s estate. Many banks and other institutions will not release funds and assets to the heirs of the decedent account owner without a probate order which protects them from liability.
Texas has a simplified probate process and offers a broad range of choices for settling decedents’ estates. Nearly eighty percent of Texas probate cases are handled through independent administration, which requires only one court hearing and the filing of an inventory of assets. Probate through independent administration can usually be completed in less than three months if the will is properly drafted and explicitly specifies independent administration. On the other hand, when a person dies without a will, one of the most burdensome forms of probate, known as court-supervised dependent administration, may be required. In this process, the administrator of the estate can take little action without the express approval of the court.
Experienced Probate Attorneys
As experienced Texas probate attorneys, we are prepared to handle probate issues ranging from routine probate to complicated fiduciary litigation. There are six different ways to probate a will and many more methods when a person dies without a will. We always look for the simplest and most economical method to meet your family’s needs. Occasionally, wills are contested. We are experienced in handling will contests in the courts.
Lucé Evans Law firm probate attorneys take special care during these difficult times to represent families with caring and compassionate counsel, guidance and direction. We are well aware of the added stress that legal proceedings bring to stressful situations, and strive to complete the process quickly while maintaining an eye towards your expressed goals. Experience enables us to guide you confidently through the transition process and help you address the future.
When you are looking at putting together an estate plan, you may notice that some assets can be considered “non-probate assets.” But what does that mean? Simply, some assets do not need to go through the probate process upon your death and can transfer directly to your heirs. There are a few types of non-probate assets, including:
- Payable on Death (POD) assets
- Health Savings Accounts
- Beneficiary Deeds
- Property Owned as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship
- Property Owned as Tenants by the Entirety
- Assets in a Living Trust
- Life Insurance Policies
If you have any of the above, these assets will not have to go through the court system after your passing.
Most Common Estate Disputes
When you have lost a loved one, it is a stressful time for everyone who was close to him or her. The stress and sadness can quickly turn into bitterness and turmoil when money or property is involved. The most common estate disputes begin with the document itself. Family members may accuse each other of undue influence, coercion or manipulation. This often occurs when the will or trust has been modified close to the time of the death of the loved one. Some disputes also occur when one family member has been left out of the will or trust. It is important that if you believe there has been some manipulation or coercion that led to the estate document being changed, that you discuss this with your attorney.
Practical Advice & Concerns
It can be difficult to mourn and grieve the loss of your family member when you are busy trying to sort out the estate. We have assisted our clients and their families through this difficult time and have developed some practical advice. Make sure to do the following:
- Get a minimum of ten copies of your loved one’s death certificate.
- Assign yourself a period of a few hours to work on what needs to be done, but stop when that time is over.
- Assign tasks to other family members to lighten the load.
- Take care of yourself, eat healthily and get regular exercise to relieve stress.
If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding the distribution or probate process, call our office at 972-632-1300 and speak to one of our experienced attorneys.
How do I prepare an affidavit?
The affidavit process will depend on the county in which the decedent lived. You will want to contact the local courthouse who can point you in the right direction on where to file your affidavit. Many county court pages also provide you with a specific affidavit form that you can pick out. If you talk to an estate attorney, they may also draft their own custom affidavit. The custom affidavit must still conform to all the state rules and requirements. Fill out the form accordingly and make any necessary attachments. You will also need to include an official certified copy of the death certificate. File the affidavit according to local laws. An experienced probate attorney can do all this for you and help you move forward to the next step.
Do all wills have to go through probate?
Not necessarily. Wills do not have to go through probate unless you need to transfer title of an asset or transfer ownership. Probate is required for significant assets, like houses, to transfer ownership. You can bypass probate with even large assets by putting your assets into a living trust. When the trustee (creator of the trust) dies, the trust is still alive, thus being able to bypass the probate process. If you would like more information regarding the probate process, contact our office at 972-632-1300.