Probate Law

Probate Administration
One of the hardest parts of life is facing the reality of it ending for our loved ones.  While this is a hard topic to discuss, it’s important that you and your loved ones know how you want to handle their estates once they have passed.  This very sensitive topic is one that we handle delicately to ensure that you and your loved ones have everything they need to make the process as easy as it can be.

What is Probate Administration?
Probate Administration allows for effective management and distribution of the deceased individual’s assets.  Probate is the process of establishing the validity of the will in court, and this should occur within four years from the date of death. This includes collecting assets, settling any debts, and distributing assets to heirs (if no will) or beneficiaries (if there’s a will).  Texas Law allows for one of three different methods to probating an estate based on details of each situation, and the process generally follows the following steps:

1. The administrator must collect assets.
2. The administrator must pay or settle any claims against the estate.
3. The administrator must pay all taxes from assets.
4. The administrator must petition the court to determine heirs (if they have not been determined by the will).
5. The administrator must distribute the estate to the appropriate parties.

When there is a Will
Independent Administration
If the deceased person’s will specifies that the estate should be administered independently, the Court’s will allow the administrator to handle all aspects of the estate.  This means they will be able to sell property, pay debts, close accounts and take other actions on behalf of the estate without having to ask the Court for permission.  The administrator can be any adult unless they have been found unsuitable by a judge or state law. Because this would not require as much time and involvement with the Court, this is a less costly process.

Dependent Administration
Dependent Administration is the default rule in Texas, which requires that the probate administration is dependent upon the Court’s supervision and authority.  This requires that the administrator requests the Court’s approval for many transactions that are a part of the probate process.  This happens most often when there hasn’t been an administrator appointed through a will and when there are a variety of accounts to handle towards the estate.  This can be a costly matter though as the Court’s involvement is the most with this administration type.

Muniment of Title
A muniment of title will allow the transfer of estate property to the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s will without the need for estate administration.  This is the fastest and most affordable way to probate a will in Texas.  There is no need for an appointed administrator in this situation as the will is simply admitted to probate as a substitute for a deed to real estate. This is available only when there are no debts to be paid and no actions to be taken that would require an administrator.
No matter which administration process you encounter, you want to make sure that you are working with an attorney who is experienced and educated with Probate Administration.  This will ensure that the right steps are taken with your loved ones estate, and you can rest peacefully knowing everything is taken care of appropriately.

When there is no Will
If there is no will, then a dependent administration would be required.  However, if all heirs or beneficiaries can agree on an administrator and agree to waive the requirement of the dependent administration, then the court can appoint an independent administrator who will manage the estate.

Depending on the assets in the estate, Heirship proceedings may be an option.