Probate law varies from state to state, but there are several things that you and your Harris County probate lawyer can expect to happen during the process. The following is a simple breakdown of some of the most common aspects of probate law in Texas.
First of all, probate is the name of the legal process that takes place to distribute a person’s estate once he or she has passed away. With some exceptions, such as trusts, life insurance payments, retirement plans, and a few other things, all of a person’s assets must go through this process in order to ensure they are being distributed legally. An “estate” is not just a term used for rich people. The majority of the assets left behind—houses, vehicles, money, personal property, retirement accounts, etc. are all considered part of the estate.
Once an individual passes away, someone will need to petition the court to be named as the Executor of the estate. Typically, this is a family member or close friend of the deceased. If the deceased had a will, he or she will likely have chosen the person they want to fulfill that role. If not, however, the courts will decide who should have the position if multiple people step forward. This person will work closely with the probate lawyer throughout the process. It is a big responsibility and can be time consuming.
Again, if there was a will, then one of the first steps the executor and the Harris County probate lawyer will do is to “prove” that the will is valid; this is the first part of the court process. They will then compile a list of assets, debts, and heirs to be presented to the courts. The executor and probate lawyer are also charged with alerting creditors and family members of the death.
Because the probate process can take a considerable amount of time, it is also the executor’s job to manage the assets of the estate throughout the legal proceedings. Many people find that this job is much easier under the guidance of the probate lawyer, as the attorney will likely have far more experience than the executor.
Based on debts and assets, the personal representative will have to determine whether or not assets will need to be sold to pay for outstanding debts, including taxes. The representative is also required to have all the assets appraised for value. If there is a will that bequests money to heirs that is currently tied up in investments, then the probate lawyer will also help the executor sell those assets to meet the terms of the will.
A good Harris County probate lawyer will be able to guide the representative when it comes to how to manage, sell, and distribute assets according to the findings of the courts. Once all the property has been distributed, the executor and probate lawyer will follow up to make sure the estate is “closed.”
If you would like to talk to an experienced Harris County probate lawyer, feel free to call us(281) 885-8826. With the mention of this article, we will be happy to offer you a free consultation.