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Fulfilling Your Probate Duties And Settling An Estate Accurately And Timely

“Probate” is simply the process by which a deceased person’s estate is administered.  The administration of the estate involves identifying all of the estate assets, paying off the debts, and distributing the remaining assets according to the terms of the Will or according to Texas law if there was no Will.  In Texas, the vast majority of estates are handled through the probate process. 

When someone dies without a Will, Texas law determines how the assets will be divided.  In those cases, the probate process is considerably more complicated than in cases where the person died with a Will.  The Court will be required to not only determine who should administer the estate, but it will also have to apply Texas law to determine who is entitled to the assets of the estate. 

Whether someone dies with a Will or without, the attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP have vast experience in assisting clients through the probate process. 

Different Methods of Probate in Texas

Texas has multiple methods available for handling the probate of a deceased person’s estate.  The default rule in Texas requires that an estate be subject to a dependent probate administration, which means that the estate is dependent upon court supervision for everything that happens in the administration.  By contrast, Texas allows for an independent probate administration, which occurs in the vast majority of cases.  An independent probate administration is free from most court supervision and is most efficient and less costly generally than a dependent probate.  A third method of probate is known as a “muniment of title” probate, where the Court recognizes someone’s Will as valid but does not need to appoint an administrator of the Estate.  All of these methods of probate are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this site.  Likewise, we discuss potential alternatives to probate. 

Get The Guidance You Need To Resolve An Estate

Anytime that someone is appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate, they have certain duties that they must fulfill to satisfy the Court requirements.  Among those duties are the following:

  • Create a thorough inventory of assets
  • Account for debts and other liabilities of the estate
  • Resolve any claims of the estate against other parties
  • File a final income tax return and pay any necessary taxes
  • Distribute assets to designated beneficiaries in the Will or to those people determined to be heirs if there is no Will.
  • Partition land, if necessary.

Even in uncontested probate cases, the executor or administrator must ensure that he fulfills his duties correctly.  Failing to do so can create liability for him or her.  The best protection for ensuring that an executor or administrator has fulfilled their duties correctly is to seek counsel from experienced, thorough attorneys like those at Ford + Bergner LLP.  All of the attorneys in our firm focus exclusively on assisting clients in probate and related matters.

Reaching The Finish Line

An estate is settled and closed when all legal requirements have been fulfilled and assets have been distributed. The path from someone’s death to that end goal can seem difficult to navigate, but a timely resolution is obviously in the best interests of all concerned.

Texas law requires executors and administrators to retain competent legal counsel throughout the entire time that they serve on behalf of the estate.  Understanding that the probate process always involve the difficult loss of a loved one, our probate lawyers offer compassion and efficiency. We know what is important every step of the way, and we are happy to assist clients all over Texas from our offices in Houston, Dallas, and Austin.  Call us at 713-352-0937 or send an email.