Probate & Estate Administration

Probate and Estate Administration is the legal process whereby property is passed to a person’s heirs upon their death. The type of property and assets of the decedent determine which process is necessary.

Each executor, administrator, trustee, and other fiduciary is bound to promptly create a plan to meet respective legal, financial, and ethical responsibilities. Without a timely and effective plan, a fiduciary cannot properly discharge the duties of office, thereby risking personal liability for opportunities lost and expenses incurred. We are committed to ensuring that our clients have a complete understanding of their obligations and a clear plan for meeting those obligations before they accept fiduciary appointments.

Strict deadlines, limited marketability of assets, and volatile financial markets require beneficiaries to be proactive in protecting their interests. Beneficiaries who delay in asserting their rights could experience irreparable financial harm through missed opportunities, increased tax and other costs, and changing economic conditions. Because each trust and estate is unique, we work closely with our clients to evaluate relevant legal, financial, tax, and business issues and to understand their concerns, needs, and expectations.

An executor (when there is a will) or personal representative (when there is no will) oversees the probate process. This involves:

  • Filing an application with the court
  • Attending a hearing to prove-up the will
  • Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
  • Appraising the property
  • Paying taxes and creditors with the deceased’s assets
  • Adequately distributing the property to the beneficiaries

If there is a will, the assets are distributed according to the instructions of the will. If no will exists, then Texas law generally determines who gets what and in what proportions.

In general, property that the deceased owned individually has to pass through probate in order for ownership to transfer to his or her heirs. Jointly owned property (if owned by right of survivorship) and the proceeds of life insurance, retirement accounts, and annuities generally pass to the surviving joint owner or the named beneficiaries without the necessity of probate.

There are several different or alternative processes involved in probate. Not every probate procedure is right for every client. Our attorneys select the simplest, most direct process available for probate and estate administration.

Probate can be an emotional, complex, and difficult process for the family and all other concerned parties, but it does not have to be. We can manage the process from start to completion, and take the details and effort out of the family’s hands while keeping them fully informed of the issues involved.