Navigating the Texas Probate System with Knowledgeable Houston Probate Lawyers

At The Probate Law Group, a well-established Houston probate law firm, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to assisting individuals and families in effectively managing their estates and minimizing probate involvement.

Probate, the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s assets, is generally inevitable, regardless of the presence of a will. Unfortunately, it can be a costly, time-consuming, and public affair. To alleviate the burden, our team works closely with clients, offering valuable guidance to executors and family members unfamiliar with the complexities of probate rules.

The probate process can seem intricate, but it can be broken down into several key steps. Initially, the executor, usually named in the will, files a probate application in the county where the deceased resided. Subsequently, the court issues a notice of the probate application, allowing anyone with intentions to contest the will the opportunity to do so.

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Assuming there are no contests, the court examines the presence of a valid will and holds a hearing to verify its authenticity. Upon confirmation, the court appoints the designated executor, while in the absence of a will, an administrator is appointed. The appointed individual is then responsible for locating all estate assets, identifying beneficiaries, addressing creditor notifications, and resolving any disputes among family members and beneficiaries. Though legal assistance is not obligatory, engaging an estate planning lawyer can significantly enhance efficiency and save time and costs.

While most estates undergo probate, Texas law provides for a summary probate administration for “small estates.” The value of such estates, excluding specific exempt property and family allowances, must be below the amount needed to satisfy certain creditors. There is no fixed dollar threshold for qualifying for summary probate administration.

Generally, an estate’s value comprises all assets, excluding exempt and non-probate assets. Exempt assets include items like a home for the surviving spouse or children, furniture, clothes, limited firearms, jewelry up to a certain value, tools, equipment, books, farming vehicles, and one vehicle per person. Non-probate assets, such as jointly owned accounts and certain real estate, pass directly to joint owners or beneficiaries.

Complete avoidance of probate may not always be possible, but steps can be taken to reduce the portion of assets subject to probate. To explore options for converting probate assets into non-probate assets, it is advisable to consult a Houston estate planning attorney.

The Probate Law Group

Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today

Secure your end-of-life plans and ease the process for your loved ones, contact the dedicated team of Houston probate lawyers at The Probate Law Group. With over 35 years of experience, we offer comprehensive probate services to help Texans plan for the future of generations to come. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at 713-597-7176.