Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

Estate Planning & Probate Specialists

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Easing Your Mind At A Difficult Time

It is hard enough to deal with the death of a loved one. Add to that a potentially complicated legal process and you may find yourself becoming overwhelmed. If you are the executor of a will or want to become the administrator of an estate, the help of an experienced lawyer can ease your mind and bring the probate process to a successful conclusion.

At the Law Office of Sharon C. Stodghill, we are dedicated to providing efficient and cost-effective probate representation. With more than 40 years of combined experience, our Houston probate attorneys know the system, and we know that you want to minimize the time spent in probate court. If you are confused by the probate process, you do not have to worry. We will shoulder the legal burden so you can focus on getting through this difficult time.

Understanding Types of Probate in Texas

In Texas, there are three types of probate administration. Generally, what separates each type is the level of court supervision. All three have their advantages and disadvantages, and we will advise you as to what option may be best for you. The three types of probate are:

Dependent administration: This form of probate has a very high level of court supervision. That means the administrator needs the court’s permission to enter into almost any transaction, from paying the estate’s debts to selling property. Some things to consider about this type of probate are:

  • Conflict: If there is significant conflict among heirs or beneficiaries, dependent administration may be the best method. High levels of court involvement means the judge can oversee the conduct of everyone involved and this provides some protection for the administrator.
  • Creditor issues: This type of administration requires creditors to follow very strict procedures for making claims. If a creditor fails to present their claim within a certain time or makes a claim incorrectly, the estate will no longer be liable for that debt.
  • Bond: The administrator must provide a bond based on the size of the estate. The bond is there to provide protection for the beneficiaries and creditors of an estate. Once a dependent administration is closed the administrator’s bond is released.
  • Fees and expenses: Repeated applications to the court for approval of an administrator’s actions means that legal fees and court costs are typically higher than other types of administration.

Independent administration: This is the most common type of probate administration in Texas. Compared to dependent administration, this process is much less expensive because the administrator does not need to go to court very often, nor does he or she usually have to post a bond. This type of administration can be either requested in the will or arise by consent of all heirs or beneficiaries. Some things to consider are:

  • Efficiency: This type of probate can usually be completed more quickly than a dependent administration.
  • Court involvement: Because this administration requires less court involvement, the personal representative does not need court approval for all actions, saving the estate on fees and expenses.

Muniment of title: This method of probate is unique to Texas. There is no executor or administrator appointed to distribute property. Rather, once the court certifies that the will is truly the last will of the deceased person, the court’s order itself transfers title to the intended beneficiaries. Essentially, the court order serves as an instrument transferring title to property.

  • Limitations: Muniment of title works best when real estate is the only asset in the estate. If there are bank accounts, brokerage accounts or similar assets, it is likely that a dependent or independent administration will be necessary.

Contact a Houston Estate Administration Attorney for a Free Consultation

You do not have to manage the probate process alone, we are here to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer, please call 713-464-6412 or contact our Houston law firm online.