Deer Park Probate Attorneys Provide Sound Guidance to Executors
Thorough Texas firm works to enforce the wishes of decedents
Probate usually follows a painful loss, and often the person designated to settle the estate doesn’t have any experience handling these complex matters. When you work with one of the Deer Park probate attorneys at The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant, you will receive knowledgeable guidance on every aspect of the estate resolution process. We have served clients throughout the Houston area for more than a combined total of 83 years and work to ensure that executors and beneficiaries understand how Texas law applies to their circumstances. As a trusted provider of estate planning services, such as the preparation of wills, trusts and power of attorney documents, our firm can also advise on strategies to bypass or simplify the probate process.
What is the probate process in Texas?
For estates required to go through the probate process, state law authorizes two different structures. Independent administration gives estate representatives more freedom to handle their duties without requesting permission from the court. Complex or highly disputed matters might be better suited for dependent administration where there is much more judicial control. Whatever path works best, we deliver effective counsel on vital tasks such as:
- Filing the will — Once someone who has a legal will dies, the designated independent executor files the document in court and petitions to be named as the legal representative for the decedent’s estate. If no will exists, a dependent administrator is named to allocate the property of the deceased based on the state’s intestacy laws. During dependent administration, the administrator must obtain a probate bond that covers the probable amount of the estate.
- Bringing assets into the estate — A person who dies might have extensive real estate and financial holdings that must be located and transferred into the estate. From there, a detailed inventory must be created to ensure that all property is accounted for and can be distributed in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes or Texas law.
- Managing obligations, fees and disputes — At the time of their death, a person might have debt obligations that need to be addressed by the estate, and numerous expenses also mount while the estate is being settled. The executor or administrator is responsible for seeing that estate debts, taxes and fees are paid. Should a dispute arise over the authenticity of the will or how its instructions are being carried out, the executor or administrator is responsible for handling these contests.
- Distributing property to beneficiaries — When all property is collected within the estate, debts and obligations are paid and disputes are resolved and the estate representative shifts ownership of assets to the beneficiaries identified in the will or determined by the state’s intestacy provisions.
In most cases, Texas law requires probate of a will to be commenced within four years of the decedent’s passing. However, it is usually best to start the process promptly. Though we understand that closing a loved one’s estate can be emotionally draining, our firm offers comprehensive support from start to finish. We also assist purported heirs who believe a problem exists with a will or its execution.
Knowledgeable estate planning lawyers advise on ways to avoid probate
Even under the best circumstances, probate can be a difficult process that forces heirs to wait for the assets bequeathed to them. However, there are estate planning options that enable people to transfer property directly to their beneficiaries. Our firm can advise you on how trusts, jointly held assets and insurance policies might make things easier for those you love upon your death.