How does an attorney assist with probate?

When relatives pass away, many people feel overwhelmed by the daunting process of dealing with probate. If the decedent did not leave a will, the process can get more complicated. An attorney in Texas may assist the surviving family members with probate. Things may not turn out as challenging as some people initially believe.

Probate with or without a will

Probate involves the court-supervised distribution of assets from a decedent’s estate to beneficiaries. The process also involves paying off the estate’s debts, and the funds come from assets in the estate. For example, if the decedent had $10,000 in a checking account and $3,000 in debt, the executor of the estate would pay the debt before distributing the assets to beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries are individuals named in a will. An executor of the estate might also be named in the will. However, some people pass away without a will, which means the state’s intestacy laws come into effect. During this process, the probate court divides assets based on a “decreasing level of connection to the decedent.” Spouses and biological children would be the closest to the decedent.

The court might also appoint someone as executor to handle business for the decedent’s estate. Someone must legally eligible and appointed to close credit card accounts, sign tax forms and more.

The probate process might move easier than assumed

If no one contests a will, then probate might move swiftly. Probate would likely close once the court learns that someone filed necessary tax returns, paid all outstanding debt and distributed assets to those legally entitled to them. Also, some assets transfer outside of probate. Joint checking accounts, for example, may transfer on death.

Not everyone knows what their requirements are during probate, and even the person named as an executor might be unsure. Working with an attorney who handles estate and probate matters may make things move along more smoothly. An attorney may explain all the necessary steps and help address them. For example, an attorney might send letters and death certificates to financial institutions noting the decedent’s passing.

Working with an estate law attorney may help the executor of a will fulfill all their responsibilities according to state law. If there is no will, an attorney might help a family navigate Texas’s intestacy rules.

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Law Office of Sharon C. Stodghill
952 Echo Lane, Suite 330
Houston, TX 77024

Phone: 713-464-6412
Fax: 713-827-7483
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