In the after math of losing a loved one, nobody relishes the experience of navigating a complex, often trying legal process. This said, not all probate experiences are equal. Depending on the process required for your case, the experience can be relatively painless, especially if you entrust an experienced attorney to guide you through the many steps.
Five Ways to Probate an Estate in Texas
- Independent Administration
Independent administration, the most common form of Texas probate, empowers the executor to attend to many aspects of settling the estate without court supervision. This ease of action supports quick resolution provided the deceased’s will dictates independent administration or, in the situation where the person passed away without a Will, all heirs agree on an independent administration.
In such cases it helps to seek guidance from an experienced attorney not only to ensure all directives set forth in the will are followed, but to see that the executor or administrator, who carries a fiduciary duty to act in the estate’s best interest, does not overlook any responsibilities.
- Dependent Administration
In contrast to the above, dependent administration involves heavy court supervision and is a time consuming process. This process is required where a will does not give the executor the ability to act independent of the court or where someone passes away without a will and the heirs cannot agree on someone to serve without court supervision. A dependent administration is also required when one of the heirs of the estate is a minor child.
- Muniment of Title
In instances where the deceased maintained a will, has no unsecured unpaid debts, and is not subject to a claim from Medicaid, you may be able to get the will admitted to probate without the necessity of a full administration of the estate. This process, like the first described in this list, involves minimal court supervision and is relatively quick and painless because no executor gets appointed, and, therefore, no statutory and fiduciary duties are assigned to anyone. In order to probate a loved one’s estate through muniment of title, the executor must submit a request to the court and demonstrate that all requirements are met.
- Small Estate Affidavits
In cases of estates valued at $75,000 or less and where the person passed away without a Will, probate may not even be necessary. Instead, beneficiaries may be able to collect the estate by simply filing an affidavit with the court. As with all other cases, an experienced attorney can tell you whether your situation meets the requirements of this process.
- Affidavits of Heirship
At times, the only asset someone leaves behind is real property and passes away without a will. When that is the case, the best option may be to simply file affidavits of heirship in the real property records to show how the interest in the property passes to the legal heirs and why those listed are the legal heirs.
Importantly, probate does not start automatically but must be requested when a loved one dies. It is also important to remember that the will of someone that has passed away must be probated within four years of their death. After four years your options are severely limited and may greatly affect how property is distributed. Determining which of the above options best-suits your situation is not always easy and it helps to seek expert advice. The Hailey-Petty Law Firm not only provides tailor-made legal strategies for all forms of probate, but offers personalized guidance every step of the way.
To schedule a low-cost consultation to discuss your probate options, do not hesitate to call us at (512) 910-8977 in Austin, (210) 570-2458 in San Antonio, or to reach out via the contact form on our website.