What is Your Experience in Handling Probate Matters?
We have handled various types of probate proceedings including applications to probate wills, applications to determine heirship, as well as administration of estates for which there was no will. We also handle litigation in probate such as will contests.
Who Do You Represent in These Cases?
We have represented various “sides” of probate matters. Usually, it is the executor of the will who seeks us out to probate a will. Sometimes, there is a dispute over the will or ownership of certain property and we could be representing parties on either side of those disputes.
What Kind of Assistance Do You Provide to Clients Going Through the Probate Process?
We try to make the process as painless as possible. We try to use the most efficient procedures based upon the type of assets that need to be addressed. Many times we can handle a probate on a flat fee because we know about how much work it will take us based on our experience. Other cases will be at an hourly rate if there are more moving parts to the asset picture and the amount of time necessary may not be easily forecasted.
What Actually is Probate?
Probate is the court process used to settle an estate when a person dies. Some states require more court intervention than others. Probate is only necessary when there are “estate” assets rather than assets that are not part of the estate. Assets that are not part of the estate include, for example, insurance that goes to designated beneficiaries or joint accounts that have right of survivorship.
Is There More Than One Type Of Probate?
There are several different types of probate based upon the types of estate assets involved, the value of those assets, the amount of liabilities of the estate, and whether or not there is a will.
What are Some Options Besides a Full Probate?
The options include procedures for small estates under $50,000 or less, muniment of title, or small estate affidavits. We discuss some of these on our frequently asked questions.
What Factors Set the Stage for Probate to Happen?
When someone dies, you should review the status of the estate with a lawyer. Then you can determine if probate is necessary and what type of probate procedure would be most efficient. We have free initial consultations with our clients where we review the situation and come up with a strategy for settling the estate.
What are Some Common Misconceptions About the Probate Process?
The most common misconception we hear about probate is that the spouse automatically receives the homestead when the other spouse dies. That does not happen in most circumstances.
Why Do We Hear So Many Horror Stories About Probate?
Probate can get expensive, especially when there are disputes. In our experience, probate disputes are more emotionally charged than most family law cases. That is why we try to solve those disputes prior to a person’s death with a solid estate plan.
Is Probate Necessary?
Some amount of probate is necessary in a lot of cases. Sometimes there are checks written to an “estate” after someone dies because they forgot to designate beneficiaries for retirement accounts. Sometimes there is real property that needs to re-titled. If there are significant assets to be distributed under a will, probate is the ONLY way to accomplish that. A will means absolutely nothing until it is probated through the court system.
Does All of the Deceased Person’s Property Have to Go Through Probate?
Accounts or insurance policies that have designated beneficiaries do not go through probate. In other words, those assets are no longer owned by the deceased person because there was a contract that stated who the next owner would be. If property is held in a trust, that can also avoid going through probate. A trust is an example of a contract that avoids probate. A will is not a contract.
For more information on Handling Probate Matters in Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 288-3200 today.