What do you do when a family member dies in Dallas, Texas?

If your spouse passed away, parent passed away, or sibling passed away, schedule a free consultation with a Dallas probate lawyer.  The probate attorney can help you deal with your family member’s property.

The list of property to deal with can seem overwhelming:  the house, car, retirement account, bank account, savings, furniture, and other personal property.  What if the decedent had debts?  How do you transfer all the property to the correct people?  How do you know who inherits each piece of property?

Fortunately, in the State of Texas, handling an estate is easy and inexpensive, compared to many other states.  The probate lawyer will walk you through all the steps and make the process as straightforward as possible.


What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process necessary to handle a deceased person’s estate.    There are special courts and judges just for probate.  The probate process starts with a consultation with the attorney.  The attorney will gather information from you and discuss the steps involved with probate.

Then, the attorney will file the necessary paperwork at the Dallas County Probate Court and schedule a hearing at the probate court.  At the hearing, generally, the attorney will ask the client a series of simple questions in front of the probate judge.  After this brief hearing, the court gives the client a document called “letters testamentary,” which gives the client the legal authority to handle the decedent’s property.


Who Hires the Attorney and Handles the Probate Process?

If the deceased family member left a last will and testament, the person named as the executor (or “executrix”) is the go-to person for the estate.  The executor is the person who usually attends the hearing at the Dallas Probate Court with the lawyer and the person who receives the letters testamentary from the court.

If the family member did not leave a will, the process is very similar.  However, if the decedent died without a will, the probate attorney will have to take a few extra steps  as part of the process.  These extra steps generally mean that the attorney fees and probate court costs will be higher in the absence of a will.


Can You Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is very common in Dallas, TX.  There are several probate alternatives that may be available in your situation.  Some of these probate alternatives are cheaper and faster than traditional probate.  However, probate alternatives are not available or recommended in every situation.  When you meet at the Dallas probate law office, the attorney will suggest methods you might be able to use to avoid probate, including:

  • Small Estate Affidavit
  • Affidavit of Heirship
  • Muniment of Title
  • Probate with Order of No Administration
  • The lawyer may even advise that you don’t need to do anything at all, especially if the estate is insolvent.


How Long Does it Take to Handle a Deceased Individual’s Affairs?

Depending on how much property the decedent owned and how much debt was owed, the process can take anywhere from two weeks to two years!  Most often, from the time you hire the attorney to the time all the property has been distributed to the beneficiaries, it’s going to take between two months and a year.  The process can be finished more quickly if the executor is fast to accomplish the required tasks.


How Much Does it Cost to Handle an Estate Start to Finish?

The probate process is usually less expensive if you die with a will that is valid under Texas law.  If the decedent left behind a will, the attorney fees generally start at around $1,000, and the probate court costs will be a minimum of about $300.

If the decedent died without a will (or a will that was not executed properly), the probate attorney fees will generally start at around $1,200, and the probate court’s costs may exceed $900.  However, the probate lawyer may be able to provide more inexpensive legal alternatives at the free consultation.

If the deceased person didn’t own much property and didn’t have much debt, the estate may qualify for a small estate affidavit.  The small estate affidavit is a document filed with the Dallas County Probate Court, and it can cost as little as $600 for attorney fees (plus court filing fee).

Typically, the estate pays the attorney fees and court costs, not the executor.  The executor shouldn’t have to pay out of his/her own pocket for these costs; in fact, some wills even say that the executor should get paid “reasonable compensation” from the estate in exchange for working with the probate lawyer, attending the Dallas probate court hearing, and otherwise handling the decedent’s financial affairs.



If your Husband or Wife passed away, Mom passed away, Dad passed away, or brother or sister passed away, schedule a free consultation with Dallas probate attorney Isaac Shutt.  Call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 or use the online form to contact Mr. Shutt.

The lawyers at Shutt Law Firm, PLLC, are dedicated to this area of Texas law.  Schedule an appointment with a Dallas, TX probate attorney to discuss Texas probate alternatives, the steps involved in the probate process, and how easy Dallas probate can be.