When a loved one dies, it is a difficult time. The thought of dealing with legal obligations at this time and having to hire an attorney can add even more stress and anxiety. However, the probate process is unavoidable in most situations and serves as the method in which the title of assets are transferred to those left behind. An experienced probate lawyer will help avoid unneeded complications.
It is important to hire an attorney knowledgeable in the area of Probate law to make the situation as bearable as possible. As a former staff attorney for a Harris County Statutory Probate Court, McDonald Worley knows Probate law and what it takes to navigate the system effectively on your behalf.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
The legal process that begins after someone dies is called probate. It ensures that the estate left behind by the deceased person is properly distributed to the person’s heirs and that any debts are paid. Property is divided according to the person’s will, but if no will exists then it will be done according to state law.
When someone dies the executor of the person’s will is required to file paperwork regarding the estate in a probate court. During this process, the executor must manage and secure all assets. This process can last just a few months or as long as a year.
This can depend on the kind of assets that are left behind. If real estate, securities, or other property is part of the estate, the executor will need to decide if these items need to be sold. This will depend on whether the will designates cash gifts to beneficiaries or if there are debts that need to be paid.
The Probate process includes:
- Naming the executor. The executor is typically named in the person’s will. If not, or if there is no will, the court will choose someone.
- Validating the will. It must be proven to the court that the will of the deceased person is valid. This routine process depends on each state’s rules.
- Taking inventory. There must be an inventory of all property that belonged to the deceased person.
- Appraise the property. The value of the property is determined in this phase.
- Pay debts. Any necessary debts and taxes must be paid.
- Distribution of property. The distribution/transfer of the property is carried out, according to the will. If there is no will, this is done according to state law.
Probate typically requires that the appropriate paperwork is filed by lawyers and court appearances are made. Payment of court fees comes from the estate’s property.
Probate is not always required in some states if the property is under a certain amount, if the property is owned jointly with another person, or if the property is part of a living trust.
TYPES OF PROBATE
Here are some of the types of probate our firm handles:
- Probate Administration: Independent and dependent administration is where the court appoints a personal representative of an estate to gather the assets of an estate, pay the debts, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. If the deceased family member had a will, the personal representative is usually named in the will.
- Heirship: When a person dies without a will or in other situations, an heirship proceeding is necessary for the court to determine the lawful heirs.
- Muniment of Title: Muniment of Title is an inexpensive way for estate assets to be transferred. This process can be used when a valid will exists, no unpaid debts exist, and there is no claim by Medicaid against the estate in pursuit of benefits received by the person who died.
- Affidavit of Heirship: An Affidavit of Heirship may need to be filed in your state to confirm the identity of the heirs of the estate.
- Small Estate Affidavits: This is for situations where the estate is worth $50,000 or less and there is no will. Those who are poised to inherit the property are able to provide a simple affidavit in order to collect the property.
Navigating the probate process while meeting the legal requirements of probate law in your state is made easier with the representation of our experienced estate lawyers.
Our qualified lawyers can help make your estate administration a fast and hassle free process, providing peace of mind that the estate’s legal requirements are met.
Let our probate lawyer help simplify a complicated process, let an experienced law firm help you with difficult administration problems.