To understand the role of a probate lawyer, the first step is to understand what probate is. Probate is a legal process where a court determines that a decedent’s Will is valid or determines heirs (if they died intestate meaning they died without a will). During this process, assets belonging to the decedent’s estate are passed on to beneficiaries in accordance with that individual’s will. If there is no will, then Texas law determines who the heirs are.
Probate in Texas
In Texas, probate is streamlined. During probate, the court legally recognizes a person’s death, admits the Will to probate or determines the decedent’s heirs and appoints the Executor or Administrator to collect assets, pay debts, and distribute the decedent’s assets. Many probate proceedings in Texas are independent administration and the court does not oversee the distribution of assets and payment of debts because an Independent Executor acts free of court oversight.
Probate is much easier, and more efficient, when a will is available. If one is not, then it will take longer and may be more costly and complex.
What Are the Downsides of Probate?
Probate court has some downsides:
- Lacks privacy. The will, if one is present, becomes public record after your loved one’s death
- Makes it possible for people to contest the will. A will contest may drag out the probate process and add expenses you didn’t expect
- Locks and binds assets, so you cannot use them or have access to them during the probate process
- Alerts creditors to the death. When that happens, they may attempt to seize inheritances as a way to obtain payments for past-due debts
All of this can be overwhelming, but the good news is that you can get help. The person hired to help you through this process is your probate lawyer.
Why Work With a Probate Lawyer?
A probate attorney is a licensed attorney. They are familiar with estate planning and the laws that impact the heirs and beneficiaries of an estate. If you choose to work with the same attorney who worked on your loved one’s estate plan, then they will already be familiar with the will, trusts, and other aspects that need to be addressed.
A probate lawyer in Dallas, TX, will help throughout the probate process. After your loved one dies, they will talk to the executor and help guide them through the probate process.
It’s smart to work with a probate lawyer because your lawyer will have a better understanding of the law as well as non-probate alternatives that may help your family save money and time after a loved one’s death. If there are any problems, they can also help represent the estate and litigate when necessary.
What Does a Probate Attorney Do?
A probate attorney may help the executor as they:
- Collect the proceeds of life insurance policies
- Assist in paying off debts and bills
- Obtain appraisals for assets
- Identify and secure assets
- Determine if inheritance or estate taxes are due
- Prepare and file all of the documents requested or required by the probate court
- Resolve issues with income taxes
- Transfer assets in the decedent’s name to the beneficiaries’ names
- Make a final distribution of the assets in the estate once all bills and taxes have been resolved
Finding the right attorney to help you is the first step after your loved one has passed. Then, they will work with the executor to handle the estate so that it can be resolved correctly.
Contact Krupa Downs Law, PLLC for a Probate Attorney Plano Texas
If your loved one has passed away and you are the executor of the estate, our law firm is here to help. We will provide you with compassionate support as you navigate the probate process. Contact us today.