Navigate The Probate Process With Skilled Legal Guidance
Probate is the filing with the court to administer or account for an estate of an individual who has passed away. When a loved one passes away it can be a very difficult, emotional and complicated time in a person’s life. We understand that families will have a lot of questions and be in need of clear answers.
Does every estate need to be probated?
A common misconception is that every estate needs to be probated, or in other words, go through the court and have a judge oversee the estate and its distribution. This is not always true. Not all estates need to be probated. Do contact a law firm to discuss what needs to be done on the estate.
How do I avoid probate?
More recently, changes in the Texas Estates Code, has allowed many assets that previously needed to go through the probate court can now pass without a will or without court involvement. We have worked with many families over the years ranging from very small estates to very large ones.
Does Oxner Legha Law Firm handle will disputes?
Yes. We have also guided families through difficult times when there are disputes over the validity of a will or contentious discussions as to whom property should be given after someone has passed.
What happens if a will is lost?
We have also worked with a lot of estates where a will has been lost, destroyed or only a copy or digital version can be produced. Sometimes a copy of a will or a digital copy can be admitted into court. We can still probate the estate if the Will is lost.
What are the requirements of a will?
Wills do have strict requirements and it is best to consult with an attorney to hear whether they think it is a valid will based on their understanding of the Estates code. The attorneys at the Oxner Legha Law Firm have also worked with families that do not live in Texas and even live abroad. We have worked with out-of-state and out-of-country lawyers to coordinate the handling of the estate.
What does it cost to probate a will/estate?
Oxner Legha Law Firm does offer flat rate fees in some situations based on the facts surrounding the case. During this difficult time, we have learned that we as lawyers, do not want to add to that complication and difficulty. That is why we began offering a set fee rather than billing by the hour on some cases that meet the appropriate criteria.
Do you offer contingency arrangements/contracts?
Yes. The firm also offers to handle some cases on a contingency basis where the firm is only paid if the attorney at the Oxner Legha Law Firm is able to obtain money on your behalf. There are rules and regulations that relate to a case being handled on a contingency basis and it is best to ask an attorney at the Oxner Legha Law Firm which fee structure best suits the estate and the particular facts.
Do we obtain Affidavits of Heirship?
Yes. We can draft and have affidavits of heirships signed by the appropriate parties to have property transferred. The affidavits need to be filed with the property records.
Does Oxner Legha Law Firm handle will contests and probate contests?
Yes. We have handled will contests. People can get nasty and greedy when someone dies. We have helped people deal with fighting families.
Common Types Of Probate
Intestate — Without A Will
When someone passes away without a will, it is commonly referred to as Intestate. Most times, when a will does not exist, an application for administration is filed where a client seeks to be appointed as an administrator (male) or administratrix (female) to handle the estate with the assistance of an attorney. An administrator/administratrix is almost the same as an executor (male) or executrix (female), except the latter is when there is a will and the individual is named in that will.
Meanwhile, an administrator/administratrix is when a will does not exist, is invalid, or was destroyed and therefore we do not have a valid document that lists who the decedent (individual that passed away) wanted to handle their affairs.
An intestate administration requires the appointment of an attorney ad litem as outlined in the following blog post.
Testate — With A Will
If a person passes away with a valid will, they will likely have named an executor (male) or executrix (female) in their will who will seek an appointment by the judge to handle the estate with their attorney.
Dependent vs. Independent Administration
There are two main types of administration when it comes to the probating of an estate: Dependent Administration and Independent Administration.
Dependent Administration usually involves more court oversight and supervision. It can be costlier than independent administration. Dependent Administration may be the preferred or mandated filing for several reasons.
The most common reasons an estate may be filed under Dependent Administration are when a minor beneficiary/devisee is involved, there are disagreements as to the validity of a will, disagreements over where property should be distributed, and/or concerns regarding who should be appointed to oversee the estate. In most cases when the estate goes through dependent administration, the judge may require a bond.
Independent Administration does not have as much court involvement as dependent administration. It often only requires a very short appearance (usually under five minutes) in court with the attorney where a very short list of questions is asked of the executor/executrix or administrator/administratrix in front of the judge and then a few documents are signed, and an oath is taken.
The court appearance on Independent Administration is usually not stressful or complicated.
Once an individual is appointed as executor/executrix or administrator/administratrix, then Letters Testamentary (if there is a will) or Letters of Administration (if there is not a will) are obtained, which authorize the listed individual to act on behalf of the estate. The Oxner Legha Law Firm generally orders 10 letters. Do ask your attorney if you believe you will need more.
Who pays the debts after someone has died?
The estate. A common question people have when someone passes away owing debts. The debts do not pass onto the beneficiaries or devisees of an estate. If you are being contacted by debt collectors it is important that you either contact someone at the Oxner Legha Law Firm or another law firm as soon as possible to discuss your rights and the estate’s rights when it comes to debts.
Learn More At A Consultation In Cypress
The Oxner Legha Law Firm is located in Cypress and has handled many probates of individual’s estates.
Do call us if you have any questions and would like to meet with an attorney at 346-327-9500.