When Someone Dies In Texas
Dallas, Texas Probate & Administration Attorneys
When a loved one dies, the loss can be emotionally staggering. Unfortunately, when you layer in the complexity of dealing with the probate of their estate, it can get worse. Every week we get phone calls and emails from people who are grieving the death of a loved one and are confused and overwhelmed about what to do next.
Probate and Estate Administration Law is one of our specialty practice areas. Our managing attorney is an expert in the field and all of our lawyers work in probate court very frequently. When you’re suffering through the loss of a loved one, we can help through our caring, professional, and prompt service.
Immediate Steps to Take in Texas When a Loved One Dies
The first step is getting a legal pronouncement of death. If no doctor is present, you will need to contact someone to do this. If your loved one dies at home under hospice care, call the hospice nurse, and she or he can take the steps necessary to declare the death and help arrange transport for the deceased. If no autopsy is needed, the deceased can be picked up by a mortuary or crematorium. The next steps include:
- Notify the person’s doctor or county coroner
- Notify close family and friends
- Call the person’s employer if they’re employed
Who to Contact After a Loved One Dies in Texas
After contacting the proper authorities and family members, you should contact entities that handle the individual’s personal affairs. These entities may include:
- A trust and estate attorney
- Accountant or tax preparer
- Life insurance agent
- Social Security and other agencies that provided the deceased with benefits
Do you Have a Loved One That Has Died in Texas?
Navigating the legal hurdles after a loved one has passed is a daunting and often overwhelming task. We’ve helped countless Texans get through the probate process and get back to life so they can grieve in peace and honor their loved one. If you have a loved one that has passed call today for a free consultation.
Generally speaking, Probate (or Administration) is the legal process associated with having a deceased person’s assets transferred to those person(s) legally entitled to have them. Commonly, this involves filing an application with a court asking the court to:
- Declare the person dead
- Admin their Last Will (if they have one) to probate
If no Last Will is present, the process is slightly different in that the applicant also usually has to ask the court to make a legal determination of the deceased person’s heirs (so that the heirs can inherit the property).
Unlike probate in many states, Texas’ probate process is typically clear and straightforward. If the deceased person has the type of Last Will which allowed for unsupervised administration of the estate (known as “Independent Administration”) the process involving the court is usually very fast and cost efficient.
The Parvin Law Group’s Approach to Probate
No one wants to spend excessive time or money dealing with lawyers or a court. For that reason, the Parvin Law Group has a proven approach to the Probate Process we utilize in every single case. Although every case is different, here is a general outline of the process we follow:
- Initial Fact Gathering – The first step in our process doesn’t involve our clients fighting downtown traffic or paying to park; we simply hold a telephone conference during which our clients can discuss their case with our Intake Manager in the comfort of their own home. Once the client has formally retained the Parvin Law Group to help with the Probate, we provide our client with a simple form to complete and return to us that provides all of the essential information to start the Probate case.
- Case Filing & Court Matters – After we have drafted the application that creates the probate case in court, we file it with the appropriate legal authority. After at least a 10 day waiting period, which is required by law (it’s usually a bit longer due to court’s busy schedules), we will set your case for hearing in front of the Judge. In cases involving Independent Administration (which are generally unsupervised by a court), the hearing is typically no more than about 20 minutes and fairly simple. At the conclusion of the case, if you’re appointed as the personal representative of the estate, you will receive Letters Testamentary (internal link).
- Required Court Filings & Notices – Texas law requires various notices to creditors, beneficiaries, and (typically) a required inventory. With your help, we handle all of these for you.
- Dealing with Creditors – Generally, Texas law allows heirs or beneficiaries to take property subject to the valid claims of creditors. If the decedent left owing money to creditors, your lawyer will need to evaluate each claim to ensure its legally allowed.
- Transfer of Assets – Typically, at this stage, we provide detailed guidance to our client regarding the process for effectively transferring the property of the deceased person to those listed in the Will. Occasionally, this requires us preparing other legal documents like deeds. We can assist you with all aspects of asset transition.
- Flat Fee – In many cases, our probate or estate administration clients merely pay a flat fee to us for our services. We have found that clients prefer the predictability of a flat fee instead of hourly rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
If joint accounts are established with “rights of survivorship,” then they are not subject to the probate process. However, Texas law says that joint accounts are not created with right of survivorship unless the account holders specifically designate it when the account is created.
Under Texas law being the surviving spouse does not mean you can automatically avoid the probate process. Under a traditional deed in Texas, a home does not automatically transfer to the surviving spouse upon death. The same goes for cars, stocks, and other assets.
If the deceased owned any real estate or other property that did not have beneficiaries named, then the Will must be probated in order to transfer titles to lawful heirs.
It’s best to speak to a probate lawyer and ask them. Typically, that lawyer is going to start by examining the Last Will and Testament of the deceased and ascertaining whether the Will allows for “Independent Administration” or administration that is “free from court supervision.” If it does, then it is likely the probate will be a simple process. Even if it does not, however, there are sometimes still options that allow a simplified, independent administration of the estate.
Each case is different. Some cases involve a fairly simple legal process that requires only one court hearing and a few legal filings. Other cases, however, require extensive court involvement and considerable effort. Typically, the difference involves the type and extent of the estate plan the deceased had in place. A licensed attorney can help you better understand how complicated your case may be.
You have four years from the date of the decedent’s death to file the Will for probate. If the Will is never filed, the decedent is treated as having died without a Will, and the heirs determined under Texas law will be entitled to the decedent’s assets.
If you don’t probate a Will, then certain assets may not be properly transferred and may stay in the name of the deceased. For example, if nothing is done to formally transfer the title from the deceased to the heirs or beneficiaries, then the home will not be able to go up for sale.
In most contexts, the word “probate” refers to the legal process that deals with the assets and debts left behind after someone dies. By default, probate is supervised by a court, called the probate court. When someone dies with a Last Will and Testament, the probate process is used to prove the validity of a will. Depending upon the type of probate matter, most probate actions in Texas can be relatively simple and cost-effective.