Distributing an Estate in Sugar Land (When There is No Will)

If someone dies without a will, the estate goes to the “heirs at law,” which are defined according to the Texas Estates Code.  In Texas, however, there are additional considerations. How much someone should receive in the absence of a will is also dependent on whether or not the property was separate or community and whether or not there are debts or claims owed (and in particular in which order these should be paid). Needless to say, following the proper decision tree can be complex, and when combined with the fiduciary duty that an administrator owes to the heirs, can seem a daunting task.

Romano & Sumner are dedicated attorneys who are knowledgeable about distributing an estate in Sugar Land. Hiring a lawyer will be beneficial if you are a personal representative who is overwhelmed at the responsibilities that come from allocating assets.

How are Assets Distributed to Heirs or Beneficiaries in Sugar Land? (When There is a Will)

After the debts have been prioritized and paid, all of the remaining liquid assets are usually transferred to an estate account. This account is split up by the executor, and a check is cut to the various distributees who are named in the Will in the amounts listed in the Will. to receive them.

If real estate is being distributed, the handling of the property will depend on the terms of the will. Either the property will be sold, and the net proceeds will be distributed to the distributees. Or, if the will calls for the distributees to receive the property intact, it may be deeded to them in their individual names.

Sometimes a will could call for a beneficiary’s share of an estate to be put into a trust. In that case, the executor will take steps to transfer the title of an account or title of the real estate into the name of the trustee of that beneficiary’s trust.

How Long Does the Process Usually Take?

Depending on the route one has to go, if a person has a will, the only obstacle for estate distribution is typically the court’s availability to hear the case. Typically, it can take anywhere from three to four weeks.

If the deceased died intestate, the usual timeframe goes up because there are several extra steps and other people involved. If the determination of heirs and the classification of property as either separate or community is uncontested, the process typically takes along the lines of six to eight weeks. This would increase if the estate is contested.

Estate Distribution Hearing (with a Will)

During the Sugar Land hearing, the personal representative will try to prove the will via the testimony of the applicant. This includes proving that:

  • The will is a true copy
  • There were no children born after the will
  • The marriage status of the testator when they died
  • The court has the proper jurisdiction

The result of that hearing is that the will is admitted into probate and Letters Testamentary will be issued to the executor. At that point, if the will provides for an independent administration, then the next step is filing a notice to creditors.

An attorney will also help an executor prepare and file an inventory, which lists the assets of the estate (in broad categories – not every spoon must be counted!). The inventory is filed in the case and becomes a public record. Alternatively, if the family wants some privacy, they could file an affidavit in lieu of an inventory list that states all heirs received a list of the assets.

The executor would notify all the beneficiaries that the will has been admitted into probate and provide them a copy of the document. The executor will also forward their Letters Testamentary to financial institutions, which will enable the financial institutions to recognize officially recognize and deal with the executor.  The executor can also execute deeds to transfer real property or cars.

In general, the role of the executor is short-lived as they gather all assets, pay all claims, and distribute the funds.

Distributing an Estate in Sugar Land with the Guidance of an Attorney

Estate distribution can be extremely complicated, especially if a person did not take the time to create a plan that simplifies the process before they passed. Romano & Sumner wants to help make this process as easy as possible so that you can focus on grieving for your loved one. Contact a qualified attorney to discuss distributing an estate in Sugar Land during a free consultation today.

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