Tackling Probate Issues in Houston, Texas
Probate law is an important part of how your debts and assets are handled after your death. If you die without an estate plan, your assets and your estate will need to enter probate. This is a lengthy and time-consuming process. During this process, the Texas courts will decide what to do with your assets and which of your heirs will inherit your estate. It is important that family members have a lawyer on their side who can help them with the probate process. If you wish to help your family avoid probate, it is important to speak to a probate attorney who can also help you with estate planning.
At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., our Houston probate lawyers have over 20+ years experience guiding individuals and families through the probate process. We can also help you draft the necessary documents before death to avoid probate altogether. Our lawyers want to meet with you personally to discuss your needs and goals, as well as answer any questions you may have.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process in which a court recognizes a death and oversees the distribution of assets and estate to specific family members. Through probate, all debts are also dealt with accordingly. The court has one main goal in mind during probate: to protect the interests of all creditors and beneficiaries of the estate. However, the process is long and can result in conflict between family members.
If you drafted a Last Will and Testament prior to your death, the executor of your estate must file for probate. State and local rules will govern how the probate process works. In general, however, the executor of your estate will have four years to file for probate after your death. If your executor misses this deadline, the laws of intestacy will determine how your estate is divided.
If your estate is relatively simple, the probate process may take as little as six months. However, for more complex estates, or if the will is contested, the probate process can drag on for years.
Texas Laws of Intestacy
In Texas, when a person dies without a will, the courts must decide how to divide their estate. To do this fairly, the courts follow Texas intestacy laws. Your estate will be divided according to your family’s level of connection to you. For example:
- Your surviving spouse will inherit all deceased spouse’s community property, plus one-third of all separate personal property and the right to use real estate for life.
- Biological children. Inherit the balance after the spouse’s inheritance.
- Inherit the balance after the spouse’s inheritance, if there are no children.
- Inherit the balance after the spouse’s inheritance, if there are no children or parents.
If you die without any close relatives or a surviving spouse, the estate will pass to nieces and nephews or possibly to any grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Many people do not want the courts to determine how their assets should be divided. If you wish to retain control over who gets your estate and how your loved ones are cared for, it is best to speak with one of our lawyers immediately. Our probate lawyers can help you draft necessary estate planning documents now, to prevent the courts from intervening upon your death.
Some assets are not distributed during probate. These are considered the non-probate part of your estate. The bank or company holding them will distribute them directly to the beneficiary you chose in the document or policy. This often includes:
- Insurance policies
- 401(k) plans
We Can Help Guide You Through the Probate Process
Without a Houston probate attorney on your side, the probate process in Texas can be overwhelming and scary. Many Courts will only allow lawyers to file applications to probate. When there are multiple beneficiaries, the process can become even more complicated, as disputes may arise.
At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., our Houston probate lawyers can help guide you through the process as easily and smoothly as possible. We will protect your interests and ensure that all deadlines are met. Our lawyers will help:
- File the probate application with the proper Texas probate court
- Attend hearing for will validation
- Catalog assets and prepare an inventory with appraisals
- Identify and notify all beneficiaries
- Notify creditors
- Resolve any disputes
- Distribute assets
We can also help you draft the necessary estate documents needed before your death to help your loved ones avoid probate altogether. This is known as estate planning. While no one likes to consider life after they are gone, a little extra planning and forethought can save your family members considerable time and headaches going through the probate process.
Contact Our Houston Probate Law Attorneys
At Roger G. Jain & Associates, P.C., we can help you discuss your probate matter and evaluate your needs and goals. We want to help your loved ones inherit your assets and estate without the need for lengthy and public probate. This can give you the peace of mind you need now knowing your affairs are in order. To learn more, call us at (713) 981-0600 or fill out our confidential contact form. We know that this is a difficult topic to think about, that is why we work tirelessly and efficiently to make the process easier. Call us today!