Probate & Estate Administration
Probate is the legal process used to transfer the property of an individual on their death. When a deceased individual dies with a valid will, an application is filed with the probate court to request that the court admit the will into probate. There are some very specific and detailed procedural and documentation requirements that must be met during the probate process to ensure that all legal requirements are fulfilled. If and when the court admits a will into probate, the will effectively transfers title to and ownership of all assets that fall within the probate estate of the deceased individual.
A second important part of the probate process is the appointment of a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate. If an individual dies with a will, then generally the personal representative is called the “executor” of the estate (with a few exceptions). If the individual dies without a will, the personal representative is called the “administrator” of the estate. Regardless of whether the representative of the estate is an "executor" or an "administrator," that person has duties and obligations to collect the assets of the estate, pay or resolve any unpaid debts of the estate, pay any taxes that are due from the estate, resolve any outstanding claims against the estate, and then distribute the remaining property or assets of the estate to the appropriate heirs or beneficiaries.
In many states, the probate process can be very time-consuming and expensive. Texas, however, provides the option of “independent administration” for most estates, which permits the executor or administrator of the estate to handle the majority of estate matters without extensive court oversight or involvement. This can greatly decrease the time and expense involved in the administration of the estate.
Our firm is prepared to handle both routine and complex probate proceedings. We strive to educate clients about the probate process and to keep them fully informed along the way. We look for options to streamline the probate process as much as possible, when appropriate. In those cases where the process is going to be more complex (and, consequently, more time and expense will be involved), our goal is to make sure the client is fully aware of the additional expense and time that will be required. In each and every case, we are sympathetic to the fact that the client is undertaking a challenging task following the death of their family member or friend.