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Probate & Estate Planning

PROBATE MADE SIMPLE-THIS IS OUR GOAL

It is certainly true that probate can be time-consuming and expensive. It is also true that many estates can be probated quickly and with minimal expense. You do not have to be intimidated by the probate process. An experienced lawyer can help you make sense of the process and handle any problems that may come up.

At the Lamar Legal Group, we are committed to helping clients navigate the probate process as smoothly and efficiently as possible. When you come to us, we will listen closely to your needs and concerns, help you make wise decisions, and clearly explain what is going on at every stage of your case.

Call us today at 832-767-1976 or e-mail us at attorney@lamarlegalgroup.com for an initial consultation or case evaluation. We proudly serve clients throughout Houston, the Spring/Memorial areas, Sugar Land, and anywhere in Harris, Fort Bend or Montgomery counties.

In Texas, there are different types of probate with different requirements, but each type generally starts out the same. The process begins with filing the initial application and getting a personal representative appointed. After that, a variety of things occur, including:

  • Filing the will with the court, where it is proved valid or invalid

  • If there is no will, the court will determine the identity of the heirs

  • Accounting for all the assets of the estate and reporting the results to the court

  • Creditors are given notice of the death and are given the opportunity to make claims against the estate

  • Debts and expenses of the estate will be paid

  • Remaining assets are distributed according to the will or according to Texas law, if there is no will

  • If there is a dispute about the validity of a will or a disagreement about how assets should be distributed, probate litigation may occur

At all stages of the process, we will be ready to answer all questions and help you make the right decision for your family. At any time, unexpected events may arise to complicate matters. That is one reason why the assistance of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable.

Our office is ready to help you at every stage of the probate process. To schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced probate lawyer, please call 832-767-1976.

 

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 will sometimes mean 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.