The Law Office of Ana M Pace helps people successfully navigate through probate while guiding you through the complex probate process with compassion and expertise, ensuring your loved one’s estate is managed properly. Our history of success is built on a solid commitment to help you emerge from the probate process with everything you and your family rightly deserve.
What is Probate?
When a loved one dies, the first step in distributing the assets of their estate is to determine whether they had a Will. If a Will exists its important to speak with an attorney to see if probate is necessary. If probate is necessary the Will must go through a court process to determine its validity, officially appoint an executor or administrator, pay the debts of the estate and distribute what’s left over based on the deceased person’s wishes expressed in the Will. When no Will can be located, the probate process can triple in length of time and cost.
Types of Probate in Texas
The most common type of probate in Texas are will probate and requesting determination of heirship. Within these two process there may be the need to open an administration on your estate. There are two types of administrations independent administration, a type of probate that allows the executor to administer the distribution of assets from an estate without court supervision. An estate qualifies for independent distribution if it meets the following conditions:
- The deceased person specifically requested independent administration in their Will, or
- All of the distributees named in the Will or heirs in the estate consent to independent administration.
Dependent administration is a much more complicated and lengthy process that’s used under the following conditions:
- There is no provision for independent administration in the Will and the distributees refuse to agree it to it; or
- The Will provides for it, but its in the best interest of the estate to convert to dependent administration because the estate has a large amount of debt; or
- The heirs of an estate without a Will do not agree to use independent administration; or
- One of the heirs is a minor in a situation where an individual died without a will and the court will not allow independent administration.
Dependent administration requires the executor to be bonded and all actions must be authorized prior to paying bills, disposing of property, and distributing assets. This process can cost the estate tens of thousands of dollars.
Probate and Estate Disputes
There are many types of issues that can give rise to disputes over the distribution of assets from an estate. These disputes can be complicated, lengthy and costly so it’s important to hire an experienced Texas probate attorney that can get great results without breaking the bank. These are the most common types of estate disputes that give rise to litigation in probate court:
- Contesting the validity of the Will, including claims that the decedent was subject to undue influence or lacked mental capacity when they signed the Will;
- Will interpretation disputes which are usually caused by ambiguity when the Will was drafted by a layperson; and
- Claims that an executor is “unsuitable” under the Texas Probate Code.
In addition to disputes involving Wills and probate, there can also be conflict over financial assets that pass through a beneficiary designation or a survivorship agreement such as life insurance policies, bank accounts and certificates of deposit. If you believe you are entitled to more than you’re being offered as an inheritance or somebody is contesting what you believe you’re entitled to, it’s important to speak to an experienced Richardson probate attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you begin to negotiate, the less likely you are to be embroiled in lengthy and expensive court proceedings.