I Have My Late Mother’s Will. What Should I Do With It?
If your loved one has passed away and you have their will, you need to call a probate attorney and they need to examine the will to see if you need to admit it to probate and transfer the assets over. Most probate attorneys offer free consultations during which they will take a look at it and give you their recommendations. There are just so many things that can go wrong and it’s all very complicated. When someone passes away and they have a valid will, you want to get it probated right away; you don’t want to wait on it.
What Is The Difference Between A Dependent And An Independent Administration?
An independent administration is where we go in front of the judge once and we get someone appointed over the estate and then we are done. The judge signs the order and you have full authority over the estate. You don’t have to go back to court, you just have to report back to the judge electronically. It’s a lot easier and less expensive.
A dependent administration means that the court is going to supervise everything you are doing. You have to come back in front of the judge to get permission to do anything. If you want to sell the house, you have to get permission from the judge in person. If you want to make a distribution to the heirs, you have to get a permission from the judge in person. You have to pay your probate attorney each time and you have to also serve paperwork on all of the heirs and all of the beneficiaries, which is more time consuming and costly.
It makes a lot more sense to do an independent administration unless people don’t get along. If there is a dispute and the heirs aren’t getting along, unfortunately, we’ll have to do a dependent administration because the judge is going to want to supervise and make sure that everything is being done properly.
Is There A Time Limit To Probate A Will?
A lot of people don’t know it but you only have four years to probate a will. Last August, a woman came into my office and she had her mother’s valid will leaving everything to her, but it had been three years and 49 weeks since her mother passed away. I did some research and found out that her mother was actually her aunt. She had never legally adopted her but she raised her from birth. Her aunt had never had any children but under the intestate code, which means there is no valid will, the entire estate would have been split up between my client and her 15 cousins. This was a quite sizeable estate that included mineral rights in West Texas. Thankfully, we got it filed in time. If she had come to me a month later, she would have gone from a 100% heir to a 1/16th share.
How Do You Probate A Lost Will?
If you don’t have the original will, hopefully you’ve at least got a copy. We still have to jump through hoops and bring in witnesses who were there when the will was being signed. If we don’t have them, hopefully someone can attest that it is the decedent’s handwriting. Either way, it’s more time consuming, it’s an extra hearing in front of the judge, and it usually increases the cost of the probate.
If you don’t have a copy at all, we can bring in witnesses who are familiar with the will, who have seen it, and who are willing to testify. However, it’s weak evidence and it’s a lot harder to prove. It’s really important to keep the original will and an electronic copy of it.
For more information on Assisting Clients With Probate In 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.