After losing a loved one, the thought of how their estate is processed and distributed may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, this complex process, known as probate, is legally necessary to settle your loved one’s affairs and protect your assets and inheritance. If you have lost a family member in Texas or elsewhere in the United States, you do not have to go through probate alone.
At Stepp & Sullivan, our attorneys have over 70 years of combined legal experience helping Texans. Our compassionate attorneys understand the complex emotions you may be experiencing and can use our knowledge and skills to assist you to a favorable outcome. When you retain our services, you can have peace of mind that your loved one’s estate is handled with the utmost care.
The 5 Steps of the Texas Probate Process
Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased individual’s estate before the court. The process includes the legal recognition of the decedent’s passing, resolving any outstanding debts, and distributing their assets. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this complex process with ease. Probate typically follows the process below:
Filing the Will and Probate Application
When the decedent has an established will, it must be filed with the court along with a written application. The court then posts a notice to all interested parties for at least ten days before proceedings begin. This period allows interested parties to contest a will if they wish. If no one contests the will, the court determines whether the will is valid.
During the initial hearing, the judge formally recognizes the death of your loved one and decides if the individual applying to be executor is the right fit for the role. The executor then swears under oath to uphold their duties and responsibilities to settle the estate. Then, the judge admits the will into probate.
Within 90 days of the hearing, the executor must inventory and appraise all of the estate’s assets and debts. Then the executor must fulfill their other responsibilities, including the following:
- Providing notice of probate to beneficiaries and creditors
- Settling any outstanding debts
- Filing the decedent’s federal tax return
- Selling estate assets
These responsibilities can be challenging to complete on your own, especially after losing a loved one. A seasoned probate attorney can help you through this process with compassion and attention to detail.
All disputes must be resolved before any assets can be distributed. The process may face significant delays if anyone has contested the will or a creditor’s claims to the estate. A skilled probate attorney can help you mediate disputes and fulfill your legal duties as the estate’s fiduciary.
When all debts and disputes are settled, the estate’s remaining assets are distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries. It is essential to note that not all of your loved one’s assets can be distributed through the probate process. For example, joint bank accounts and life insurance policies can pass directly to beneficiaries. Your lawyer can help you determine which assets fall under probate and advise you on the best course of action to distribute your loved one’s assets.
Speak to a Seasoned Texas Probate Attorney at Stepp & Sullivan
At Stepp & Sullivan, our attorneys have years of experience helping clients in Texas navigate the probate process while protecting their rights and interests. We know losing a special person or loved one is stressful, and we will make your exposure to the probate process as straightforward and painless as possible. When you partner with us, you can rest assured that your loved one’s estate is handled with precision and care. To learn more about how we can help you and schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, call us today at (713) 677-2635 or complete our contact form.