For grieving family members, facing probate can be a daunting prospect. We help our clients respect their loved one’s final wishes while protecting their own rights and interests, offering peace of mind throughout the process.
Probate Administration Lawyers Serving Families in the Sugar Land and Houston Areas of Southeast Texas
If you have reservations about going through the probate process, you are not alone. For most people, probate administration is uncharted territory. From the terminology used to the court procedures involved, everything is unfamiliar, and everything seems to involve a never-ending list of nuances and complexities.
But, with experienced representation, probate administration does not have to be overwhelming. In fact, for many families, it can be relatively straightforward. At Romano & Sumner, we focus on simplifying the process, helping our clients understand their circumstances and make informed decisions at every step along the way.
To get started, it is important to know a few basic facts about probate in Texas. Here are some key things to know if you are preparing for probate administration:
- Probate administration can be necessary regardless of whether your loved one died with or without a will.
- If your loved one owned property jointly, or named beneficiaries in his or her bank and retirement accounts, certain assets may be exempt from the probate process.
- In Texas, there are two primary forms of probate administration: independent administration and court-supervised dependent administration. There are also a number of simplified probate procedures that can be used for administering small estates.
How long the process takes and how much it costs will depend on the specifics of your loved one’s estate and whether any disputes arise during probate administration. Our attorneys can help you understand what to expect and develop a plan for completing the process as efficiently as possible.
Texas Probate Administration FAQs
Q: How do I know if I am entitled to a share of my loved one’s probate estate?
Under Texas law, there are two ways in which family members can become entitled to a share of a deceased loved one’s estate. The first is through the law of “intestate succession.” If your loved one either (i) died without a will, or (ii) died with a will that did not address his or her entire probate estate, Texas law specifies which family members are entitled to receive a share of his or her property.
The second is through the terms of the decedent’s will. If your loved one died with a will, the terms of his or her will (assuming it is valid and enforceable) will override the default rules of intestate succession. If the will omits certain assets, those assets will still be distributed according to the statutory allocations.
Q: What happens if my loved one was in debt when he or she died?
If your loved one was in debt, his or her creditors (i.e. a mortgage lender, credit card company, or bank that provided a car loan) will generally be entitled to get paid first in the probate process. Your loved one’s personal representative must provide notice to your loved one’s creditors, and those creditors will be entitled to file claims against the estate before any property gets distributed to heirs or beneficiaries.
Q: How can my family decide which form of probate administration to pursue?
Deciding which form of probate administration to use is one of the earliest steps in the probate process. Independent administration is only an option if:
- Your loved one’s will calls for independent administration, or
- All heirs (if your loved one died without a will) or beneficiaries (if your loved one had a will that did not provide for independent administration) agree to independent administration.
Otherwise, it will be necessary to use court-supervised dependent administration unless one of the small-estate options (i.e. the small estate affidavit or muniment of title) is available.
Q: What types of issues can lead to disputes during probate administration?
There are a number of issues that can potentially lead to disputes during probate administration. Some of the most common examples include disputes over the enforceability of the decedent’s will (i.e. due to questions of mental capacity or undue influence), claims against personal representatives, and disputes between heirs and beneficiaries. If you are concerned about a potential dispute during the probate process, seeking legal representation early can help reduce the chances of costly and contentious litigation.
Contact the Texas Probate Administration Attorneys at Romano & Sumner
If you are struggling with the administration of a loved one’s estate, are facing a will contest or other dispute, or have questions about what to expect during the probate process, we encourage you to contact us for an initial consultation. To speak with one of our experienced probate administration attorneys in confidence, please call (281) 242-0995 or inquire online today.
The attorneys at Romano & Sumner can help to create a comprehensive plan to probate your will in Texas.
Probate Administration is where the validity of a will is decided
Any claims as to the validity of the will are also part of the Texas probate administration proceedings. Wills must be executed in a specific manner to be valid. Additionally, there may be multiple versions of the will with different provisions, all created by the decedent. Typically, the latest version of the will is the one that will take effect, but this is only if that particular will is found to be valid. If the will submitted to probate is found to be invalid, the decedent’s estate will be administered if he or she had died intestate.
Determination of heirs
The determination of heirs becomes an issue for two very specific reasons:
- if a person dies without a will or if the will has been revoked or annulled (“intestate as to the person”); or,
- if a person dies without including a specific asset in an otherwise valid will (“intestate as to property.”)
Under any such circumstance, the Texas probate court acts according to the Texas laws of intestate succession to determine the distribution of the decedent’s property.
Probate Administration proceedings are public in Texas
Texas probate administration proceedings are public records; as such, the terms of the will are available to anyone. Notice, typically by publication in a local newspaper, must be given to any individual who may have a claim against the estate of the deceased party so they may handle their claim in a timely manner.
It is important to distinguish the difference between a person’s probate estate and non-probate estate. Certain assets are transferred immediately upon the decedent’s death by operation of law without the need for probate. Examples include life insurance policies, any asset held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, assets with a pay on death beneficiary, and assets held in a valid trust.
A Sugar Land probate lawyer can help you when probating a will in Texas
A consultation with a Texas probate lawyer immediately following a loved one’s death is one of the best steps you can take in order to more easily cope with such a difficult event. Consultation with proper legal counsel is the key to carefully managing an estate, and the best way to insure a resolution as quickly and as economically as possible. For a free initial consultation, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated Texas probate attorneys at Romano & Sumner.
Romano & Sumner, LLC is proud to serve these Texas areas
Cities / Suburbs:
The Woodlands | Sugar Land | Baytown | Conroe | Katy | Friendswood | Pearland | League City | Richmond | Rosenberg | Spring | Humble | Kingwood | Clear Lake City | Stafford | Jersey Village | Cypress | Missouri City
77478 | 77479 | 77487 | 77496 | 77498 | 77459 | 77489
Harris County, Fort Bend County, and surrounding counties