Fort Worth Probate Attorneys
Experienced Fort Worth Law Firm for Will Executors, Beneficiaries, and Heirs
Fort Worth is home to over 175,000 families — and that’s just within the city limits. Each of those families has a story, and each of those stories eventually involves loss.
When a member of the family passes away, their will (if they have one) is entered into a legal process called probate. Probate is simply the formal means by which the Texas courts read and validate a deceased person’s Last Will and Testament.
As part of that process, the court will determine the value of the estate and its debts or obligations. It will then distribute the remainder of the person’s assets to their beneficiaries or heirs.
The rules for probate in Texas are simpler than in many other states. Still, it can be a difficult path to navigate — especially if you’ve been named the executor or personal representative, or if your interests as a beneficiary or heir are complicated or are being challenged.
As with most of the life’s legal formalities, there’s a lot to know about probate. It’s easy to make mistakes, so getting legal advice is a good idea. The Fort Worth probate attorneys at Parvin Law can help.
Chris Parvin and his legal team have spent years helping families in Fort Worth travel the difficult path of probate and estate administration.
They’re here to answer your questions, protect your interests, keep the process on track, and help you maintain peace for your family in this time of great grief. After all, grieving is a heavy enough burden as it is. The weight of paperwork and confusing legal obligations only makes things worse.
At Parvin Law, we shoulder that burden for Fort Worth families, and we also extend our services to each of the four counties that call our city home — Tarrant, Denton, Parker, and Wise — and throughout the greater DFW Metroplex.
If you’re facing the probate process, either as an executor, personal administrator, or interested party, don’t face it alone. Put experience on your side. Contact the seasoned Fort Worth probate lawyers at Parvin Law and get good advice today.
The Probate Process
Every situation is different, and every estate is unique, so your probate experience might not look quite like someone else’s.
That said, the probate process in Texas usually involves at least these steps:
- Gathering up the documents and investigating any relevant facts
- Interpreting the language of the will
- Filing the application to initiate probate with the court
- A formal court hearing on the application for executorship
- Completing an inventory of the estate’s assets and appraising their value
- Paying valid debts or claims by creditors
- Distributing all of the remaining estate assets to the beneficiaries and heirs
- Making any necessary tax filings
The executor is involved at nearly every step along the way, but the process affects everyone connected to the will. Probate can become a long and stressful experience, especially if there are complications, if someone challenges the will, or when mistakes are made.
How We Approach Probate
There’s a temptation among lawyers to look at probate like any other courtroom proceeding. But probate is different because it is intensely emotional. There’s a personal element to these cases that can’t be overlooked.
Grief is not only emotionally taxing but it’s also distracting. You may have been close to the person whose will you are now overseeing. Estate law can be confusing enough when emotions aren’t running high, but when they are, it’s even easier to make mistakes.
Unfortunately, these mistakes only serve to delay the process and further embroil the family in a tense, public, and prolonged procedure.
Parvin Law’s approach to probate is designed to address that very problem. We take the time to get to know our clients. If we understand the family, the resolution they hope for, and how the process is impacting the executor on an emotional level, then we are able to clearly see the problems we need to solve.
That’s what this is about for us: efficiently and strategically solving problems for our clients so that they and their families can put the probate process behind them and start looking toward the road ahead.
Probate vs. Estate Administration
As we mentioned earlier, probate is the process for administering a person’s Last Will and Testament. Some people also refer to this process as “estate administration,” but that term generally has a different meaning.
Estate administration usually refers to the process of implementing all the other terms of a deceased person’s estate plan: revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, non-will estate planning instruments, etc.
The Forth Worth probate attorneys at Parvin Law can assist with both probate and estate administration.
FAQs: I’m an Executor / Personal Representative. What Does That Mean?
If you’ve been named the executor (or personal representative) of a person’s estate, that means you have the responsibility of overseeing the administration of that person’s estate plan when he or she dies, including the will.
The executor is tasked with many important fiduciary duties, which means the executor has a legal obligation to carry them out in good faith and in accordance with the law.
Among other things, as executor, you will be responsible for gathering documents, completing applications and paperwork, attending hearings as required, following court orders, and tending to other important affairs of the estate during probate.
As executor, you represent the estate, not your own interests. An experienced attorney can help you understand your various legal obligations and carry them out faithfully with less hassle than you might encounter on your own.
Why Would I Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?
An experienced Fort Worth probate attorney can handle virtually every task assigned to the executor, as well as any of the unexpected issues that so often arise during the course of probate and estate administration.
A lawyer can also help family members and other beneficiaries understand their interests, assist in challenging a will, or help to defend the estate against a challenge.
Additionally, a probate lawyer can help with:
- Resolving disputes among family members
- Reducing delay (which can quickly eat up the estate’s funds)
- Determining which of the estate’s debts must be satisfied first
- Carrying out notice requirements
- Identifying and valuing assets
- Sorting out taxation issues
- Advising the executor on legal compliance
Perhaps most importantly, an attorney can make the entire administration process much less stressful and confusing for everyone involved.
FAQ: What Kinds of Issues Would Lead to Probate Litigation?
Examples of issues that frequently give rise to probate litigation in Texas include:
- Allegations of undue influence
- Allegations of theft of estate assets
- Allegations that the executor has breached his or her fiduciary duties
- Disputes between individual beneficiaries or heirs
- Disputes involving creditors’ claims
- When parties cannot agree on how to interpret the terms of the will
While these disputes can lead to additional courtroom proceedings, it is entirely possible to resolve these matters outside of court. Staying out of court spares the family time, angst, and public drama — while also keeping more money in the estate.
Indeed, amicable resolution is a key goal for our attorneys. Part of our job is to steer the estate clear of landmines and to resolve disputes quickly, peacefully, and cost-effectively.
FAQ: What if My Loved One Died without a Will?
Estates that do not involve a will are not subject to probate, though they may still go through the estate administration process (see below). Instead, the estate’s assets are distributed by operation of law in a process called intestate succession. Our office can help in those matters too.
FAQ: What if the Deceased Left a Will and a Trust?
Far from uncommon in modern times, many estate planning counselors proactively advise their clients to create comprehensive estate plans early on in life, including both a will and at least one trust.
Administration of these estates may or may not involve probate, but either way, they are likely to also involve several additional steps, including:
- Determining how many different estate planning documents the deceased created
- Interpreting the terms of the trusts and other non-will documents
- Determining which assets fall within the trust
- Transferring assets governed by deed, title, or beneficiary designation
- Implementing the terms of any trusts, including distribution of assets
Many trusts are designed to spare the family the hassle of probate. In those cases, it is usually in the best interest of the estate and the family as a whole to avoid litigating disputes regarding the trust terms if at all possible. By getting involved early in the process, an experienced attorney can help the estate avoid undue complications and expense.
Get Answers to Your Questions. Call Our Fort Worth Probate Lawyers Today.
Don’t go through the probate process alone or unadvised. This is a difficult time for everyone, but the legal side of things need not consume you. Let attorney Chris Parvin and his sharp team of attorneys help you put this momentous task behind you the right way.
When you call Parvin Law Group, P.C., you can count on confidentiality and peace of mind. Your initial consultation is completely free.
We want you to ask questions so you get a sense of your options and your legal duties. Let us walk you through what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.
To schedule your free initial consultation with our Fort Worth probate attorneys, call (214) 974-8940 or get in touch online right away.