Do you qualify for probate?

Fill out our quick questionnaire to determine if you need probate, what type of probate you may need, and estimated fees.

The first thing you should do is hire a probate attorney and ask them to start preparing the file. There are two to three pages of information that we’ll need to prepare everything. I’ve built it into my website, so I just let my clients fill it in there. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to fill out the paperwork and then we’ll need a copy of the death certificate and the will, as well as the original will. From there, the probate attorney does most of the work. It usually takes about a month. We get the paperwork in place, we file it with the court, and then we schedule a hearing date to go in front of a judge. The client will come with me to the courthouse and I’ll walk them through about 10 questions. They are simple, yes or no questions, and I do most of the talking. The judge will admit the will into probate, which means that he is accepting the will, and will appoint my client as the executor over the estate and give them the authority to go out and collect the assets and make distributions.

Do I Have To Use An Attorney To Probate A Will In Texas?

Generally speaking, you have to use an attorney to probate a will. There are very few exceptions. Nearly every county in Texas requires that you have a probate attorney in order to try to probate a will. The law is complicated. We are dealing with creditors, other heirs, and beneficiaries, and the courts are reluctant to allow one person to represent both themselves and other beneficiaries without legal representation. A lot of people used to try to do it on their own and they wouldn’t get it filled out properly. There would be a mistake somewhere in their file and it’s usually hundreds of dollars in court fees alone to probate a will. If you don’t do it perfectly, you can lose that entire filing fee. People were losing money and clogging up the court system because they had to come back multiple times, so most courts now say that you have to use an attorney.

Is The Probate Court Always Involved In Transfer Of Assets When Someone Dies In Texas?

A lot of my clients prefer to put their assets into a revocable living trust for the purpose of avoiding probate. If you design your estate plan that way, your assets won’t go through probate. There are other assets that don’t pass, like life insurance. If you have a beneficiary designation, the life insurance company can pay that without having to pass through probate. Another example of that is a 401(k) or an IRA, if you’ve designated a beneficiary. Real property, like houses and vehicles, can sometimes avoid probate by using an affidavit of heirship but that’s a really unique and rare situation. It gets complicated very quickly.

What Are Non-Probate Assets?

Non-probate assets are assets that legally can be handled outside the probate estate. A great example of that is life insurance. The life insurance company has the money and if you’ve designated a beneficiary, that asset will transfer to your loved ones without having to go through probate court. It’s handled through a contract with the life insurance company. Another great example is a retirement account, like a 401(k). The government allows you to designate your children as the beneficiary on those assets and that passes without having to go through the probate system. Unfortunately, a lot of times, people don’t stay up to date on their beneficiary designations. Maybe they got a divorce or someone passed away and then we don’t have a beneficiary. Then, it falls under the person’s estate and we’ve got to go through probate to take care of those assets.

For more information on Probating a Will In The State Of Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 851-1248 today.