Probate is the process of winding up the business affairs of a person who has passed away. Jack Robinson handles various types of probate cases. Because of his experience, he knows probate can be scary if you are not familiar with the process.
As a experienced probate attorney, Jack can guide you efficiently and effectively through the probate process. He will provide as much assistance as you need. If you need to know more about probate and the costs involved, call Jack to set up a no cost initial consultation.
CAN I PROBATE AN ESTATE WITHOUT A WILL?
Yes, but the process is cumbersome. A court will determine the decedent’s heirs before naming a person to administer the estate. Usually the administrator must get permission from the court to do anything.
WHAT IF I CANNOT FIND THE ORIGINAL WILL BUT I HAVE A COPY?
The Texas Estate Code allows a copy of the original will to be probated when the original will cannot be found. This process is difficult. There is a legal presumption that the person who wrote the will revoked it if it cannot be found.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY REPRESENT ME?
Yes. Most courts will not let you administer an estate without an attorney. The reason an attorney is required is the probate process affects many creditors and beneficiaries. When a person is named to serve as the estate administrator that person serves in a fiduciary capacity. As a fiduciary, the estate administrator must act for the benefit of others.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO PROBATE AN ESTATE?
Ordinarily, an application to probate a will must be filed within four years of the date of the person dies.
DOES PROBATE MEAN I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Yes, if you are named to be the estate administrator. While most of the probate process can be handled by your attorney, a person named to serve as the estate administrator must:
- Attend a hearing before the judge in order to admit the will to probate; and,
- Take the oath of estate administrator before the court or the court clerk.
Both of these tasks are typically done in a single trip to the courthouse.
I WAS TOLD THAT PROBATE IS EXPENSIVE AND TO AVOID IT. IS THAT TRUE?
Generally, probate is not expensive in Texas. Legal fees for probate are typically based on an hourly charge as opposed to a percentage of an estate or a flat rate.
IF THE DECEDENT HAD A LIVING TRUST THAT MEANS THAT THE ESTATE DOES NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH PROBATE, RIGHT?
It is possible that a living trust allows one to avoid the probate process. Probate can be avoided only if all of the estate’s assets are in the trust. However, people seldom transfer all of their assets to the living trust.
Assets outside the trust may still be subject to probate.
WHAT ARE LETTERS TESTAMENTARY?
Letters testamentary are an official document issued by the court. This document allow the estate administrator to act for the estate.
IF SOMEONE DOES NOT HAVE A WILL, DOES THE STATE GET ALL OF THEIR ASSETS?
Did you know that the State of Texas has written a will for you? This will is created by the “intestacy” statute. The language in the Texas intestacy statute is mind-boggling. Read this statute and you can see how it will result in your stuff going to unintended beneficiaries. Create an estate plan and none of this will happen. You will decide where your stuff goes.
Do you know how many people prefer to use the plan that the State of Texas will provide? If you guess zero, you are right. I have never worked with an estate planning client who wants to use the State of Texas plan. To learn what happens when you don’t have a will, read my article on Texas intestate succession.