Probate is the court-supervised process of administering an estate following the death of the estate’s owner. This can be a lengthy, emotional, and difficult process, especially if the deceased did not have a Will or if an existing Will is contested. This is why it is extremely important to have a trusted lawyer by your side when entering into probate litigation. At Stepp & Sullivan, our Houston probate attorneys are here to protect your interests.
What is at Stake in Probate Litigation?
Most estates require some kind of probate process, so that the official transferring of titles and assets can be completed. However, in cases here the deceased has not made valid beneficiary designations, or had not updated their Will for many years, it may be necessary to enter into a longer probate litigation proceedings. For instance, if the deceased’s will still stipulates that a large portion of their estate is to go to their spouse, but they have since gotten divorced, a lawyer can be brought in to help determine what the deceased’s updated wishes would have been.
In the state of Texas, probate cases are divided into independent and dependent administration. If an individual dies without a Will, an administrator of the estate may request independent administration, so long as all heirs of the estate are in agreement, there are no minor heirs, and the estate is thought to be solvent. Dependent administration is requested when an individual dies with or without a Will and the heirs are not in agreement, leading to disputes regarding assets, debts, and property. Dependent administration is generally a lot more complex and drawn-out than independent administration, and will require the assistance of a seasoned attorneys to litigate.
Disputes that Cause Probate Litigation
Probate litigation is generally necessary to settle disputes over larger assets. This may involve large sums of money, business interests, or any other major property the deceased did not specifically divide in their Will.
Common probate litigation disputes in Texas include:
- Real Property Disputes: Real property is essentially land, and any property directly attached to that land. Often times, real property disputes are borne out of disagreements regarding whether certain property should be sold, or which beneficiary inherits a certain parcel of land and/or house attached to a certain piece of land.
- Personal Property Disputes: Personal property disputes can be divided into two subcategories. The first is tangible property disputes. This would include disagreements about any high asset items, such as cars, jewelry, art, and other expensive purchases. The second is intangible property disputes, which includes financial assets such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, insurance policies, bank and various types of accounts.
- Oil, Gas, and Other Royalties: It is common for wealthy individuals to leave royalties to their family or heirs after they die. In Texas, for instance, many wealthy landowners have assets tied to oil and gas companies. Landowners who have sold their mineral rights or royalties may leave large sums to be divided among heirs.
Protect Your Loved Ones, Protect What’s Yours
At Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., our experienced attorneys are well-versed in all major areas of probate and elder law. You may be able to reduce the probate process significantly, by hiring a compassionate and knowledgeable member from our legal team to guide you through estate planning before probate is needed. However, when you do need a lawyer to assist in fair but tenacious probate litigation, we promise to advocate for you, your loved ones, and your best interests every step of the way.
Call (713) 714-5089 today to hire a firm with over 60 years of combined experience representing clients all throughout Houston, or click here to fill out our contact form online.