At Stepp & Sullivan, our probate and estate lawyers understand that there may be some confusion about what type of attorney our Texas clients might need when they start planning for their futures.
While both probate and estate attorneys work in the same legal area, there are significant differences between the two.
A simple distinction between them is that a probate attorney handles the probate process after someone passes away. An estate lawyer provides advice, guidance, and the legal resources to create wills, trusts, and other important estate planning services and documents before a client’s death.
Probate and estate litigation attorneys handle any disputes that result from the creation or administration of an estate.
Here are a few details our clients need to know about when they need to partner with an estate or probate attorney.
What Does a Texas Probate Lawyer Do?
Our probate attorneys help an executor or administrator to direct and manage an estate after someone passes away.
We can serve as advisors, or actively administer the estate, depending on the needs of each client, which is often dictated by the existence of a will.
When there is a will, our probate lawyer will counsel the executor of the estate on various legal matters, which will differ for each person based on the complexity of the estate and the will’s terms.
That may include:
- Preparing and filing probate court documents
- Identifying and securing the deceased’s assets
- Obtaining appraisals for the deceased’s real and personal property
- Determining the estate’s debts and negotiating their payment
- Advising on non-probate assets, such as life insurance proceeds and bank accounts
- Managing the estate’s finances
- Winding up the estate and distributing assets
When there is no will in place, the spouse, if any, and the legal children of the deceased will receive an “intestate share” of the property. If the deceased did not have a spouse or children, another relative may hire a probate lawyer to assist in securing his or her appointment as administrator of the estate and advise on the same details listed above when there is a will.
What Does a Texas Estate Lawyer Do?
Our experienced Houston estate lawyers assist individuals and families with planning their affairs to ensure the administration of their estate goes smoothly upon their death through customized will and trust documents.
Estate attorneys may also advise their clients on how to save money and headaches on probate costs and inheritance taxes, and diminish any legal complications, where applicable, that could arise for the survivors of their estates
What Does a Texas Probate or Estate Litigation Attorney Do?
By definition, litigation means to “take legal action.”
When it comes to probate or estate litigation, that could mean going to trial, fighting for our client’s unique needs to resolve disputes that arise when their loved ones pass away.
That may include will and trust contests, breaches of fiduciary duty by executors and trustees, and contested personal representative appointments.
A solid estate plan can help the probate process go smoothly or avoid it entirely, but when they do not, our skilled litigation attorneys help heirs, beneficiaries, executors, administrators, trustees, and creditors navigate the complicated legal process to help secure the best possible outcome for their case.
Contact Our Houston Probate or Estate Litigation Attorney at Stepp & Sullivan For a Consultation
If you would like help ensuring your loved ones’ futures are accurately planned and documented, contact our experienced Houston estate planning attorneys today at 713-336-7200 or online to learn more about the legal requirements necessary to place your mind at ease today and going forward.