Probate Process in Texas
Guiding Clients Through the Texas Probate Process
The following is a basic outline of the steps involved in taking an estate through the Texas probate process.
Initial Fact Gathering
Dallas probate lawyer Chris Parvin will confer with you regarding whether the decedent had a valid Last Will and Testament, the composition of the family and potential heirs, the scope of assets and debts of the estate, etc. He will share information about the Texas probate process about to unfold and together you will determine how much assistance you would like to receive.
Our services are highly specialized and tailored to your specific needs.
Filing the Application to Initiate Probate
In order to begin a probate or Texas estate administration proceeding, our law office will file an Application for Probate of a Will, or an Application for Administration of an Estate (if the deceased died “intestate,” meaning, he or she left no will).
Once filed with the probate court, legal notice is customarily posted in the courthouse of the death and the Application for Probate. A short waiting period is required following the posting of notice. Creditors will begin to come forward with claims regarding unpaid debt.
Court Hearing on Application for Executorship
The probate court judge will set a hearing for the applicant for executor or representative to provide sworn testimony. If you will be fulfilling one of these roles, you will need to be in attendance at this hearing. In order to ensure that our clients are comfortable with the process, Chris generally holds a short telephone conference prior to the court hearing. He will discuss the hearing process and other information relevant to that day.
On the day of the hearing, a member of our staff is available to escort you to the correct courthouse to ensure you arrive at the right place at the right time. Our offices are conveniently located within two blocks of the Dallas County probate courts.
In a typical uncontested probate, the hearing is brief. At the conclusion of the hearing, after the required legal proof has been made, the judge will admit the Will into probate or open an administration of the estate. The judge will appoint a personal representative and give that person legal authority by granting a Letter of Testamentary or Letter of Administration.
If an heir or creditor or other interested party believes there is a problem with the Will, disagrees with the choice of representative, or in some other way contests the legality of the proceeding, an appointment may not be made until the legal challenge has been resolved. This may be done by appointment of a different representative, through mediation or in probate litigation.
Inventory and Appraisal
The goal of this part of the process is to establish whether there are enough assets to pay creditors, and to understand the value of the estate so that each beneficiary will receive a fair share of remaining assets.
Texas law typically requires that the executor, representative, or agent take an inventory of all of the assets of the estate. Such inventory usually consists of a listing of all the decedent’s property, the personal representative’s good faith estimate of the value of such property and whether anyone owes money to the decedent. We provide our clients step-by-step, personalized assistance with this process. We draft the required legal documents and ensure they are effectively filed with the Probate Court.
Payment of Claims
Once it has been established that a creditor claim is valid, debts will be paid from the assets of the estate. Just because a claim has been brought against the estate, however, that does not mean it is valid. Each bill must be scrutinized to determine if it should be paid. If the estate is burdened by excessive debt, some assets may need to be sold in order to make payment. Upon the request of the personal representative, we will negotiate with creditors to attempt a reduction in debt. Additionally, we assist clients in understanding how creditor’s claims are prioritized under State law.
Transfer of Property to Heirs
Once claims against the estate have been settled, the property of a deceased can be transferred to the heirs (those named in a Will or determined by State law to be legal heirs). Our law office will draft and file any new deeds, titles or conveyances required to transfer legal ownership of property.
One or more tax filings will need to be made, depending upon the amount of the estate. Chris completed a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation and assists his clients in understanding their obligations regarding tax filings and liability as well as can assist in preparing tax returns.
Our goal is to ensure our clients feel fully informed and supported throughout the process and that assets of the estate are transferred smoothly and efficiently. Our priority is always to provide value to our clients at every step of the process. We invite you to contact Dallas estate and probate lawyer Chris Parvin at our Dallas office to schedule a consultation. Call (469) 607-4500.