What Exactly Is Probate In Texas?
In Texas, probate is a process that is used to distribute somebody’s assets after they have passed away. There are three routes you can take in probate. Two of them can be taken with an attorney, and the other you can do with or without the assistance of an attorney. There are actions outside of probate that you can do if you plan ahead of time.
What Are Some Misconceptions People Have About The Probate Process In Texas?
A lot of the misconceptions about probate arise from the process in other countries, states, and jurisdictions. In Texas, probate is generally non-invasive. One of the top three misconceptions is the notion that a spouse doesn’t have to go through probate because everything will automatically pass to the surviving spouse. That is not the case. Also, just because there is a will, that doesn’t mean anything. You have to probate the will for the court to give the powers under the will. That gives the opportunity for the will to be challenged. It is not a high bar to prove to the court that the will is valid if not challenged. It can be challenged afterwards, but at least there is a third party reviewing the situation and giving the power for others to rely on.
If a court orders that a will is valid, and there’s an executor, the bank or title company can rely on that. Without the court order there isn’t anything for a third party to reply on. If something happens later on, then that’s up to the court to figure out how to fix it and that is rare.
Another big misconception is the worry that the executor is going to come in and take everything in probate. I’ve heard this repeatedly. We had a mother who knew she was passing, and so, she started hiding away trinkets because she didn’t want the executor to come in and take those away from the family and sell them. That is not the case. If you have a will, the executor is who you appoint. They are not going to take everything away.
Is Probate A Long And Difficult Process In Texas?
Typically, probate is not a long and difficult process in Texas. If you have a will, the process will not be long or drawn out. We help our clients by handling everything we can. The executor is the power behind everything. They make decisions accordingly and make sure that everything that needs to be done gets done. They sign off on all the things they need to sign off on with full disclosure. Some firms don’t assist much. They may charge minimally, but as soon as you’re appointed by the court, they drop you to figure it all out. We handle everything. For instance, we have relationships with newspapers to publish the required items that need to be published.
If you don’t have a will, it can take a long time. There are two main reasons for this: one is if all the heirs don’t agree and we’re doing a dependent administration. That means we’ll be going to court for every little thing that needs to be settled. Two, the court is going to appoint an attorney ad litem, which is an attorney that represents the court – that’s not factual, but it’s a good way to describe it. The attorney ad litem is going to try to find out whether we are lying to them, or if we missed some things. The main thing they like to look for is if a person has a kid that nobody knew about back in their high school days. If so, that child is actually an heir that no one knows about. However, that will depend on the quality of the ad litem you get.
Sometimes the ad litem is busy, or the case isn’t a high priority for them. It could be six months before we start threatening them that we are going to the court to get them removed before they respond.
Is Probate As Expensive As I Have Heard It Can Be?
Probate isn’t necessarily expensive. Our firm does everything on a flat fee, which includes court costs and publication fees. When you gather everything together, it sounds expensive. If you have a will and we have to go to probate, our flat fee is $3,000. That covers all legal expenses unless there is a contest or dispute. If we end up doing more time and effort, I base that off the minimal time that we expect to spend and the expenses. If you spend more than that, I’ll be getting paid less per hour than average, but I like having the extra time, so that’s why I’m willing to do that. If you don’t have a will, then we charge $4,000 unless there is a contest or dispute. Depending on the situation, there are less expensive routes. We can do a small estate affidavit or an affidavit of heir-ship, which are less reliable and may not get the job done, but it’s something that we could try.
For more information on Probate Process In The State Of Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 829-6100 today.