A Family Member Died With a Will. What Do I Do?
This page provides information about what to do when a family member or friend died with a Will. If a loved one died with a Will, several probate alternatives may be available.
Depending on your specific situation, the probate alternative could be both very affordable and fast. To find the best probate method, or to see if you may be able to avoid probate, contact a probate attorney for a free consultation. At the consultation, the lawyer will discuss your options, the costs, and the legal process.
What is Probate?
Often, a bank or other institution tells the heirs that they need probate in order to access bank account funds. Probate is the legal process constituting the first step in handling your loved one’s estate. Whether the loved one had only a small estate or a very large estate, some form of probate is probably necessary to distribute the assets to the Will beneficiaries.
Probate generally involves probate filings and a simple hearing in probate court. There are lawyers dedicated to the practice of probate law.
What Are The Probate Alternatives When There Is A Will?
Heirs, beneficiaries, and executors are sometimes surprised to find that they may be able to avoid probate or that the estate may qualify for a probate alternative. Here is a list of the most common probate alternatives:
Do Nothing: You are under no legal obligation to probate a Will in Texas. Even if you were named executor in a Will, you have no legal duty to probate the Will. If you have the original copy of a Will but do no want to probate the Will, you can deposit the Will with the probate court in the county where the decedent resided and take no further steps.
If the estate owes money to many creditors and does not have enough assets to pay all the creditors, the named executor may choose to walk away from the estate.In this situation, it may not make financial sense to start the probate process.
Traditional Probate of a Will: Traditional Probate of a Will is relatively affordable and efficient in Texas, when compared to probate in many other states. Probate is the first step in estate administration, which is the process whereby the decedent’s property is distributed to the Will beneficiaries, expenses of the estate are paid, creditors are paid, and title to property is legally transferred.
The person named executor (or “executrix”) in the Will generally handles the estate administration. The first step is to contact a probate attorney for a legal consultation to discuss probate alternatives and the probate process. The lawyer’s fees and probate court costs are paid out of the estate.
The second major step is to attend the probate court hearing with the attorney. The hearing is usually brief and straightforward. After the hearing, you will collect Letters Testamentary from the probate clerk. Letters Testamentary is a document that gives the executor the legal authority to handle the estate.
Lastly, the executor handles the estate. After the property is distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Last Will and Testament and all the estate’s expenses are paid, the executor may wish to close the estate. The entire estate administration process can be completed in a matter of months, though the administration may take much longer for more complex estates.
Probate of Will as a Muniment of Title Only: “Muniment of Title” is very similar to traditional probate. However, this shortened probate procedure is only available when the estate owes no debts. It is a preferred probate alternative when the estate consists only of a house and a couple pieces of personal property.
Muniment of Title is often less expensive, less formal, and less time-consuming than traditional probate. With this procedure, the probate court will give the named executor the legal authority to transfer estate property in accordance with the Last Will. No estate administration is necessary because there are no creditors of the estate.
How Do I Know Which Probate Alternative Is Most Appropriate?
Consult with a dedicated probate attorney for help discerning the best probate alternative. Executors don’t navigate the probate court process alone; the lawyer will assist with each step of probate and estate administration.
At the legal consultation, the probate lawyer will gather information from you to help decide which probate alternative is best for your situation. When you leave the consultation, you should have a good understanding of the probate attorney fees, court costs, how much probate costs all together, the steps involved, and how long the entire process should take.
Contact lawyer Isaac Shutt at (214) 302-8197. You may also use the Online Contact Form to send the attorney a message. When you use the online form, the attorney will contact you shortly to discuss your options or to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
Shutt Law Firm, PLLC is a probate law office conveniently located in Richardson, TX near the intersection of Highway 75 and Campbell Road. The law office provides: probate law for Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Garland, Mesquite, and the surrounding Dallas County and Collin County. The probate lawyer can answer your questions regarding how to avoid probate, avoiding probate, estate probate court, what is probate, ways to avoid probate, wills and probate court, how to avoid probate, probate court attorneys, parent died without a will, died with no will, died without a will, heirship.