Waco Probate Lawyers

Probate, the legal process of administering a person’s estate after they pass away, can be complex and time-consuming, particularly if the decedent had significant assets or debts.

Many legal requirements must be met to properly administer an estate, including filing court documents, notifying creditors, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

If you recently lost a loved one, you may need an estate planning attorney to navigate the state’s probate laws.

You can read more about the details of probate in Texas below. If you have any questions, please contact us online or call (254) 271-2540.

Understanding Probate in Texas

Texas probate law provides two main avenues for probating an estate: independent administration and dependent administration. The key difference between dependent and independent administration is the level of court involvement. 

Independent Administration

Independent administration is the preferred method, as it allows the executor or administrator of the estate to handle most aspects of the probate process without court intervention. The executor or administrator has more freedom to act without court approval. 

Dependent Administration

Dependent administration, on the other hand, requires court oversight for many aspects of the probate process. It’s typically used in cases where there is potential for conflict among the beneficiaries or where the executor or administrator is inexperienced. It is also used where the estate is particularly complex.

Why You Should Hire a Probate Lawyer

The type of administration will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. However, if you hire an attorney, you don’t have to worry about understanding the differences. Your attorney will determine the level of control required by the court that is appropriate for your case. 

The probate process begins when an application is filed with the court in the county where the deceased person lived. Determining who files the application is the first step to take.

If an executor was named in a will, that determination is straightforward. However, if there is no will, you may need the help of an attorney to determine who should file the application. 

The application must include the original will, if there is one, and a death certificate. If the deceased person did not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate.

Once the court approves the application, the executor, or administrator, can begin to take inventory of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. This includes identifying all property, bank accounts, investments, and debts.

The executor or administrator must notify all potential heirs and creditors of the probate proceedings. A probate attorney familiar with Texas probate can help ensure that all of these requirements are met promptly and efficiently, reducing the risk of errors and delays.

In addition to legal complexities, emotional issues often arise during the probate process. Heirs may disagree about how assets should be distributed or who should be appointed estate executor.

If there are disputes, the court may need to intervene to resolve them. An experienced attorney can help mediate these disputes and find a fair and equitable resolution for all parties involved.

If there are no disputes among the heirs or creditors, the executor or administrator can distribute the assets according to the deceased person’s will or, if there is no will, according to Texas intestacy law. 

Another important reason to hire an attorney to administer a decedent’s estate in Texas is that many potential legal pitfalls can arise during the probate process. For example, there may be issues with the validity of the decedent’s Will, or creditors may make claims against the estate that need to be resolved.

An attorney can help identify and address these issues before they become major problems, potentially saving the estate time and money in the long run.

Additionally, it is important to note that some assets may not need to go through probate. For example, assets held in a living trust or assets designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, may pass outside of probate.

Texas probate law also provides a simplified probate process for small estates. If the estate’s value is less than $75,000, the executor or administrator may be able to use a small estate affidavit to distribute the assets without court intervention. 

Finally, working with an attorney can provide you with peace of mind. Administering an estate can be daunting, particularly for someone unfamiliar with the legal requirements involved. By hiring an attorney, you can be confident that you are fulfilling their legal obligations properly and efficiently.

Get In Contact With A Waco, Texas Probate Attorney Today

Probate can be a difficult and demanding process. If you are facing probate in Texas, it is important to consult with an attorney who can help you navigate the process. An attorney will help protect your interests, and ensure that your loved one’s wishes are honored.

In Waco and the surrounding areas, The Zimmerman Law Firm is here to help. Contact us online or call (254) 271-2540 today.