Wills and probate are important aspects of the legal process involved in wrapping up a deceased person’s estate. Because going through and untangling an estate can be confusing, it helps to retain a probate lawyer near The Woodlands to walk you through the process. Having a probate lawyer handle the case can help you avoid unnecessary delays and minimize conflict. These answers to common questions about probate will help you understand what to expect.
How Do I Know If Probate Is Necessary?
Not all estates are required to go through probate. For instance, community property can transfer to a surviving spouse and life insurance proceeds can be paid to the specified beneficiary without probate in Texas. Small estates, in which there is no will and the value of the estate is less than $50,000, can often skip probate court, so long the beneficiaries agree on the distribution of property and sign an affidavit to that effect. Even if you believe you do not need probate court, it is still advisable to have a probate lawyer review your case to ensure the estate is being handled appropriately.
What Are the Different Types of Probate?
The most common type of probate in Texas involves the “independent administration” of the estate. During this type of probate, an executor who is either named in the will (or unanimously nominated by all beneficiaries) supervises the process of handling the affairs of the estate. Once approved as an independent administrator by the Court, he or she can act independently to pay outstanding debts, sell property attached to the estate, and distribute assets to beneficiaries without obtaining court approval for each step. The second kind of probate is the often maligned “dependent administration.” It is less common because it requires the court to become more involved in the probate process by approving actions by the executor each step of the way.
What Role Does the Will Play In The Probate Process?
An uncontested will can make probate simple if it properly provides direction for estate administration including authorizing an independent administration. If there is no will, or if the authenticity of the will is challenged, or whenever the beneficiaries dispute the terms of the will, then a probate lawyer can provide both legal direction as well as representation in probate court.