Probate Attorneys in Waco Assisting Clients with the Probate Process
Probate is the process by which a deceased person’s will is administered. In other words, it is how a signed, and valid will becomes enforceable. While there are several reasons for the existence of the probate process, its significant goal is to oversee these elements of estate administration:
- To verify the will’s authenticity
- To transfer assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries
- To satisfy outstanding debts
- To allow time for any legitimate challenges to the decedent’s final wishes or the estate administration process
For these reasons, a lawful process (often differing by state) called “probate” exists. Probate is a necessary safeguard to avoid improper administration of an estate.
Probate falls mainly in the jurisdiction of the county where the decedent resided or owned property, and therefore the process can vary greatly.
What is a Probate Lawyer?
The job of the probate lawyer is to enter the estate into probate, to assist the client in the process of being appointed executor, and then assist the executor with estate administration. When the decedent passes, the probate lawyer assists the estate executor in disseminating the decedent’s assets, amongst other responsibilities.
A probate lawyer’s primary responsibility following the decedent’s death is acting as a legal guide to the executor or communicating legalities to the beneficiaries through the probate administration process. In the absence of a valid will, the probate attorney, and subsequently the estate administrator, become bound by state intestate laws regarding property distribution.
Probate Process Breakdown
To better understand the need for a probate lawyer, you should have a grasp on the intricacies of the probate process itself:
The Application and Appointment
If there is a will, the named executor or representatives must file the will and a corresponding application with the probate court, requesting an estate be opened as the appropriate probate type.
- There is filing and documentation that must take place before a hearing.
- A hearing may need to take place in order for the distribution to be approved or for the executor or administrator to be appointed.
Property Accounting and Evaluation
- A thorough accounting of the estate must take place in order to determine the proper distribution. Often, this is the job of the executor or administrator.
Paying Debts and Taxes
- Next, creditors can allege any claim or stake they may have in the decedent’s estate or assets to collect what is owed to them. The creditors may collect payment for the liquid assets. If no liquid assets remain, the executor may be required to liquidate what can be lawfully sold.
- Assets are distributed to named beneficiaries by decree of the decedent’s last will.
- If there is no will, predetermined frameworks in local law determine the distribution of assets.
More Details on the Probate Procedure
It is a legal requirement by the State of Texas that a deceased’s person’s assets go through a probate process. Probate is a specifically designed legal system by which a deceased person (known as the decedent)’s Last Will and Testaments are brought before the Court of Texas, which then appoints an executor or estate administrator.
At this point, the probate process begins. While the probate process is often considered frustrating, overly lengthy, and arduous, it is necessary to ensure the proper family members, friends, or colleagues receive the property and assets to which they are entitled.
Probate is especially important and required if the deceased person did not leave a Last Will behind dictating their final wishes. At this point, the State of Texas must follow predetermined rules for asset distribution, and the procedure may take longer.
What Are The Steps To The Probate Procedure?
First, as mentioned above, the Court decides upon an executor of the deceased’s Will, often stated in the Will itself, or administrator of an estate’s assets. The Court then instructs the estate’s administrator or Will’s executor to work with a lawyer to identify the assets owned by the deceased.
Then, the executor/administrator, alongside a probate lawyer, evaluates the property’s liquid and non-liquid assets to file with the Court. The Court determines the estate’s value precisely or via estimate, then grants the executor/administrator permission to liquidate any asset not specifically intended for a beneficiary to pay the estate’s debts to lenders or creditors.
Over the next few months, creditors and lenders are contacted, and debts paid. If debts are left over, the executor/administrator may have to pay them themselves.
At last, assets are distributed via the Last Will or the legal mandates for the probate process.
How Long Does This Entire Process Take?
Each of the above steps will vary according to many factors; how well the deceased planned their estate, if there are challenges to the Will’s legitimacy, and more. It is nearly impossible to give a tried and true answer to the question of how long probate takes.
A well-planned estate can go through the entire process in as little as 30-45 days. Most cases average 3-6 months in length. However, if there are disputes to the process or the legitimacy of the Will, or if difficulties arrive during any of the process’s steps, it may lengthen that time greatly.
Contact Rainey & Rainey, Attorneys at Law, LP Today
When it’s time to navigate the tumultuous waters of estate administration and probate, you want to ensure that you have an honorable, compassionate, and knowledgeable first mate. The experienced probate team at Rainey & Rainey, Attorneys at Law, LP, is ready to help. Call and schedule an appointment today at (254) 457-5083.