What is Probate?
Probate, simply put, is the legal vehicle to transfer property owned by a decedent (the person who has passed away) to the beneficiaries named in the will or heirs at law when there is no will. There are several types of legal processes in Probate and there are several factors that will determine the appropriate Probate process available. Example of some important factors include: is there a valid will; the types of assets owned by the decedent, the amount and types of debts owed by the decedent, and whether Medicaid benefits were provided to the decedent. An experienced Probate attorney will help you determine the best Probate process based on the factors in your case.
What Should I Do After the Death of a Loved One?
After the death of a loved one, the first step is to consult with a competent Probate Attorney. At the Law office of Laura Roth, Inc., the first thing we do is provide basic information and then we evaluate the decedent’s estate to determine which Probate process is applicable. The probate lawyer will then distinguish between probate property versus non-probate property to determine which property will pass outside of the estate and which property is part of the estate. Additionally, there may be Community property components that will need to be addressed. Many people find this very confusing, but a probate attorney will help explain and determine what a probate asset is, a non-probate asset is and how community law effects the case if applicable. After the decedent’s estate has been evaluated, the probate lawyer will present information and explanation for which Probate process is needed and why.
What Happens When There Is a Will?
When there is a Will, the probate attorney determines if the Will needs to be probated in order to fully administer the decedent’s estate. Sometimes a full probate and an appointment of an executor is needed. But other times, the Will can be probated as a Muniment of Title. A Muniment of Title is a simple process that is easier and faster than a full probate but may not be applicable to every situation. An experienced probate attorney can help you determine if you can and should obtain a Muniment of Title. With a Muniment of Title proceeding, no executor is appointed. Instead, the Will is recognized as being valid by a probate judge. Then the Will functions very similar to a deed and can be used to transfer both real estate and personal property.
What Happens When There Is No Will?
To die in Texas without a Will is known as dying “intestate” and Texas law controls how your probate estate is to be distributed to your “heirs at law”.
“Descendants” are a person’s offspring beginning with the children, then grandchildren, and so on. In Texas a person’s heirs are not necessarily their descendants!!!
The Heirs at Law are determined by Texas law and in order for an heir to receive their inheritance when there is no will, they must prove they are an heir through a probate process called an Heirship Proceeding. Depending on several factors, an administrator may need to be appointed after an heirship to manage and distribute estate property to their heirs.
A skilled probate attorney is familiar with other alternatives such as, Affidavits of Heirship or a Small Estate Affidavit that may be applicable.
Probate Litigation and Disputes
Other problems can arise in probate such as Will contests, unethical behavior by executors or beneficiaries including the theft of estate property, and disputes with creditors.
The Law Office of Laura Roth, Inc. is ready to help you with your Probate case, call to schedule a consultation today!