Probate Administration Attorney in Houston, Texas
The loss of a loved one is always a devastating ordeal. On top of feeling the grief and trying to mourn their loss, family members may find themselves faced with many decisions to make, such as planning a funeral, tending to the loved one’s final wishes, and settling their affairs through probate administration.
At W. Timothy Weaver, Attorney at Law, I understand the level of effort and challenges associated with probate administration and have the necessary expertise to help clients resolve their legal issues effectively so they can take time to mourn and focus on what matters most. As a probate administration attorney in Houston, Texas, I can guide you through every step of the process and help make this difficult time easier for you and your family. I also proudly serve The Woodlands, Sugarland, Katy, and Conroe.
Types of Probate in Texas
Texas recognizes several types of probate and estate proceedings:
Formal probate. In Texas, formal probate is usually required when the deceased person’s estate is worth less than $75,000, not including certain types of exempt property. The law requires formal probate regardless of whether the decedent left behind the Last Will and Testament or not. Formal probate varies in the scope of oversight provided by the court and can be either independent or dependent.
Muniment of title. If the deceased person had a Last Will and Testament, their will can be probated as a “muniment of title,” which is a relatively simple and cost-efficient way to transfer the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. However, a muniment of title can be requested if the following is true: the deceased person had a valid will, had no unpaid debts (the only exceptions are mortgages and debts secured by liens on real estate), and the estate does not face a claim from Medicaid for the recovery of benefits.
Small estate affidavit. When the decedent did not leave behind the Last Will and Testament and the value of their estate does not exceed $75,000 (excluding certain types of property), their heirs can use a small estate affidavit (SEA) to probate the deceased person’s estate. The affidavit can be a fast and inexpensive way to transfer property.
Small estate procedure. Texas also recognizes a simplified small estate process to transfer the deceased person’s property to the heirs when the value of the estate does not exceed the amount of the family allowance and the amount of debt owed to certain creditors.
Selecting the appropriate type of probate or estate proceeding requires you to take into consideration a number of factors, including the procedural requirements, the value of the estate, whether or not there is a valid will, the amount of the family allowance, whether there is any debt, and more. Because of the complexities at hand, it's in your best interest to seek legal assistance from a probate administration attorney in Houston, Texas.
The Probate Administration Process
In Texas, probate administration is typically a five-step process:
Filing for probate. The first step is to file the appropriate application for probate with the county clerk in the county where the decedent lived. The application must be filed within four years from the date of death.
Designating an executor or administrator. If the deceased left behind a will, the document is likely to contain the decedent’s wishes for the designation of an executor. If there is no will, the court will nominate the administrator of the estate. After the designation, the executor or administration will receive “letters testamentary” or “letters of administration,” respectively.
Preparing and filing an inventory. The designated executor or administrator will have to prepare the estate inventory featuring the list of assets in the estate and their date-of-death value. The inventory must then be filed with the probate court.
Settling taxes and paying debts. Once the inventory and appraisal of the estate assets is complete, the executor or administrator will be tasked with paying any outstanding debts and settling any unpaid taxes due at the time of the decedent’s death.
Distributing the remaining assets. After the taxes and debts are paid, the remaining assets in the estate can be distributed to the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries according to the instructions in the will or, in the absence of the will, as prescribed in Texas’s intestate succession law.
Probate administration can be a burden for the entire family, especially the person designated as the executor or administrator. The days following the death of a loved one can be an emotional and difficult time, which is why you might want to consider contacting a probate administration attorney.
At W. Timothy Weaver, Attorney at Law, I can provide you with all the help and guidance you need to navigate the process so you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.
Problems That May Arise in Probate
Potential problems and challenges may arise at any stage of the probate administration process. The death of a loved one can strain relations among family members or intensify a long-lasting conflict within the family. Some of the problems that may arise in probate include but are not limited to:
The person tasked with settling the decedent’s affairs (the executor or administrator) does not want to serve as the executor.
The executor or administrator fails to fulfill their fiduciary duties.
The deceased person’s heirs or beneficiaries challenge the validity of the will.
Family members have disputes over the value of the estate.
There is a newer will that supersedes the old one.
These are just a small fraction of the problems that may arise during the probate administration proceedings. If you have been tasked with administering someone’s estate, consider seeking legal counsel from an attorney to help you identify the potential problems in your case and ensure that you address them properly and in a timely manner.
Probate Administration Attorney in Houston, Texas
The probate administration process can seem like a burdensome and daunting task for someone who has just lost a loved one. However, it must be handled correctly to avoid potential complications. As a probate administration attorney at W. Timothy Weaver, Attorney at Law, I help make the probate process as easy, stress-free, and painless as possible for everyone involved. Contact my Houston, Texas, office today to get the knowledgeable guidance and compassionate support you need.