Dallas-Fort Worth Probate Attorneys
Strategic & Effective Legal Guidance for Families & Individuals
Have you been named the Executor of a will? If so, the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney will allow you to carry out your duties in a simplified and streamlined manner. Probate is the legal process that is necessary to recognize a person’s death and administer their estate.
Probate is a Latin word that means “to prove”. Many people believe that court is reserved solely for disputes – and that is where misunderstanding regarding probate can begin. It is imperative to understand that not every probate involves a dispute or contest. Sometimes the probate process concludes without any disagreement. Disagreement or not, probate guides how assets will pass from a deceased person to their beneficiaries.
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How Does Probate Work?
There are 8 general steps included in the probate process:
- Filing an application for probate in the county where the decedent lived
- Posting notice of probate at the courthouse
- Validating the will before a judge
- Completing an inventory of all assets
- Identifying beneficiaries of the estate
- Notifying the decedent’s creditors
- Resolving legal disputes
- Distributing the assets
The probate process is either expedited or hindered by the type of will administration outlined in the decedent’s last will and testament. There are two basic types of will administration in the state of Texas:
- Dependent Administration
- Independent Administration
If a will does not contain specific language outlining the type of estate administration the author desired along with the number of required witnesses and more, then Texas law requires the probate court to provide strict oversight and approve each step of the estate administration process.
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As you can see, the probate process contains many variables. That is why you need experienced legal professionals like our lawyers at Crain & Wooley to guide you through each phase of the legal process if you have been named as an executor of a will or administrator of an estate. The legal responsibilities and liability that come with these roles can be overwhelming, but with our advice and extensive resources, you can feel confident your best interests are represented.
Why Do I Need a Probate Attorney?
Most probate courts in Texas usually require an executor to be represented by an attorney in a probate matter. This is usually required because an executor not only represents himself but also the interests of beneficiaries and creditors. Under Texas law, only a licensed attorney can represent the interests of others, which means preparing and filing pleadings in a probate matter without the assistance of counsel would constitute the unauthorized practice of law. While courts allow limited exceptions to this rule, the result is that executors in Texas almost always have to hire an attorney to help them navigate the probate process.
Our compassionate legal team understands that probate can be confusing if you lack a background in this area of law. If you have questions about which type of probate administration is appropriate for your situation, please click here to take our Probate Quiz. After answering a few simple questions, we can determine which process is right for you. Get in touch with Crain & Wooley today to discuss all of your probate concerns.