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What is probate, and why do you need a Houston probate lawyer’s help?
Probate, also known as estate administration, is a court process that may need to occur after someone passes away in Texas before their assets can be legally transferred to their beneficiaries. Their house may not be able to be renovated or sold, for example, until probate is complete, although assets that are held jointly with something known as “right of survivorship” may not have to go through probate (life insurance also will not have to go through probate).
Generally, probate involves validating the will, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, taking inventory of assets, appraising assets, paying debts, dispensing assets, and more. A personal representative/estate executor, generally a family member, will be appointed to oversee the process. If there was no will present, Texas “intestate” laws (no will) will govern how the probate process works.
That’s a lot of legal lingo to sort through when you’re dealing with the death of a family member. Probate can be hard to understand! Most Houston residents never encounter probate until they are facing it and aren’t sure what steps they need to take, which is why it is recommended to work with a probate lawyer who can take care of the details and simplify the process. The majority of courts will actually require that the personal representative/estate executor is represented by a probate attorney, but this is in your best interest – it is much easier when you have an experienced guide on your side who can take the burden off you and allow you to focus on grieving. If you need help with probate, call our compassionate Houston probate lawyer today to learn more.
What are my options?
In Texas, there are four main types of probate. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may not be able to choose which type your loved one’s estate has to go through, but in some cases you do have legal options.
Independent Administration is the most common form of probate in Texas. Independent administrators do not have to seek the permission of the court before taking many steps to settle the estate, but they do still have to take most of those steps. Independent administration can only occur if it was designated in the will or if all of the beneficiaries agree.
Dependent Administration is a form of probate that is more heavily court supervised than independent administration. If there is no will and the beneficiaries cannot agree, or when there is family conflict, dependent administration will likely need to occur. The personal representative can benefit from the protection of court oversight, but this type of probate usually takes more time and money to resolve.
Muniment Of Title is an expedited, simple form of probate that can occur if there is a will, if there are no unpaid debts, and if there are no Medicaid claims involved. The court doesn’t appoint a representative – the will itself will serve as the way to transfer the assets named – although someone will still need to communicate with the court when the process is finished.
Small Estate Affidavit is a type of probate that can occur if there is no will and the total value of the estate is less than $75,000; a small estate affidavit is a sworn statement that can be submitted in lieu of traditional probate.
The drawbacks of probate
Probate is time-consuming; it can take anywhere from six months to a year, or longer, to finish. Probate is complicated, especially if there isn’t a will or if the will is disputed.
Probate is stressful; there’s a lot of paperwork involved, and when you’re mourning and trying to plan a funeral and move forward, it’s the last thing you want to be dealing with.
Probate is risky; there are deadlines and fees and legal requirements at every stage, so if you make any mistakes as the personal representative, you could be charged fines or be held liable. That’s why it’s so important to choose a Houston probate lawyer who can handle every aspect of your probate case for you so you can relax! Grief is hard enough without added legal burdens.
Why choose the Law Office of Michelle E. Murphy to help with probate?
When it comes to resolving your probate case as quickly and efficiently as possible, the Houston probate lawyer you choose to work with matters. Attorney Michelle E. Murphy understands how challenging navigating probate can be and takes a thoughtful, sensitive, personal approach to legal advocacy. She cares about what you and your family are going through, and she will take the time to get to know you so she can offer you the best advice and guidance possible. Her over 20 years of experience helping clients in Houston & beyond settle their deceased loved ones’ estates can give you peace of mind, and her ability to serve clients virtually can offer convenience at a critical time! Because she is also highly experienced in estate planning, she can help you prevent your family from having to go through probate when you pass away. She offers free initial consultations to clients so they can get to know her, ask questions, and learn about their next steps. If you are facing probate, call her today and schedule your free consultation!
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Ms. Murphy made sure to use all of her resources and did everything legally possible to help me. She fought harder than other lawyers out there and found ways to make everything work in my favor. I really appreciate how she helped me and made me feel at ease under the worst circumstances. I recommend her highly.
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