Texas Probate and Probate Alternatives

When a family member has passed away, probate is the first step in the legal process for distributing the property. The estate administration process often begins with probate. Shutt Law Firm assists with probate and avoiding probate–even if there was no Will.

 

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What is Probate? The word “probate” comes from the Latin word “Probare,” which means “to prove.” So, probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a Will or proving facts about the legal heirs.

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What are the steps involved in Probate?

If you have been named executor in Texas, you may need to speak with a lawyer about handling the estate.    Probate of a Will is the process of going to court to get the Will legally recognized under the laws of the State of Texas.

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  • Typically, to probate a Will, the probate attorney and executor go to the probate court for a hearing to establish for the probate judge that the Last Will meets the legal requirements under Texas law.
  • Once the will is probated, the probate court will provide the executor with “letters testamentary”.  Letters testamentary is a document showing the executor’s power to carry out the deceased person’s wishes in accordance with the Last Will.
  • Thanks to the relatively streamlined probate process in Texas, if the court grants independent administration of the Will, the executor usually needs to only appear in probate court once.  The probate attorney will make the estate administration process as simple and efficient as it can be.

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Can You Avoid Probate?

In many cases, formal probate isn’t even necessary.  Texas allows several non-probate processes for distributing assets upon death.  Shutt Law Firm may also be able to help you with these Texas alternatives to probate, which can be less expensive and burdensome than formal probate.

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What are the Texas Alternatives to Probate?

  • Probate of a Will as “Muniment of Title”
  • Small estate affidavit
  • Affidavit of heirship
  • Family settlement agreement, and others

Several of these alternatives can help you avoid probate court as well as save you hassle and money.  Your probate attorney can help you choose the most appropriate legal process for your situation.  Whether a Texas alternative to probate is available depends on the size of the decedent’s estate, the nature of the property in the estate, and whether or not there was a valid Texas Last Will.

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Probate In Texas When Individual Died Without A Will

Even if your loved one died without a will in Texas, you still have several options for handling the estate.  Depending on the size and nature of the estate, you may have several good legal options for distributing the estate’s assets and/or paying the estate’s bills.

Shutt Law Firm can guide you through probating a will, assist with estate administration when there is no will, and help you with easier and less expensive alternatives when available.  In Texas, probate should not be dreaded, especially with a probate attorney is there to help.

Learn Even More about the typical Texas Probate Court Process

Generally speaking, after a loved one dies, his or her will must be probated before the executor has the power to take control of the estate’s property, pay the estate’s bills, and distribute the estate to the heirs.  Fortunately, in Texas, the probate process is relatively streamlined and often requires only one visit to the probate court.  A probate attorney will make this first step fairly quick and straightforward for executors.

However, outside of court, the executor of the estate has many duties.  Estate administration involves finding and collecting all of the decedent’s property, distributing property to heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s will, paying all necessary taxes, and paying off the decedent’s debts.  There are three typical avenues for handling these tasks:  independent administration, dependent administration, and muniment of title.  Choosing the best type of probate in Texas will depend on whether there was a named executor, and the whether the court sees a problem with granting independent administration to a particular executor, the heirs, the beneficiaries, and possibly other factors.

If the decedent died without a will, distributing the assets can be more complicated than if the decedent had died with a will.  Without a will, the usual process involves filing an Affidavit of Heirship with the probate court.  This process involves more legal work than “proving up” a will in court.  The added complication involved in administering an estate without a will highlights the importance of having a will.

Even with a will, a Texas probate attorney may recommend alternatives to the traditional probate process.  In many other states, living trusts or other mechanisms can be helpful to avoid probate.  In Texas, avoiding probate is not as beneficial, given the relatively streamlined process.

Regardless of the process taken to administer the estate, a probate attorney helps executors complete their responsibilities. The responsibilities, especially those involving payment of taxes and debts, can be complicated and daunting. A knowledgeable probate attorney can help simplify the will administration process for you.

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Dallas Probate Lawyers Isaac Shutt and Peter Hall assist clients in Dallas County Probate Court, Collin County Probate Court, Denton County Probate Court, and Tarrant County Probate Court.  If a loved one has died in Texas and you want to know what to do next, if you have been named executor, or if you have legal issues regarding a current estate administration–contact Shutt Law Firm for a legal consultation.

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Shutt Law Firm assists clients in Dallas County Probate Court, Collin County Probate Court, Dallas, Richardson, Plano, McKinney,  Allen, Frisco, and the surrounding North Texas areas. Isaac Shutt and Peter Hall, the Dallas probate lawyers, provide Free Consultations.