Probate & Estates: 5 THINGS EVERY TEXAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A PROBATE WILL & ESTATES

Situations Where a Probate Attorney is Automatically Unnecessary

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Right of survivorship can apply to community property or joint tenancy. Those are fancy ways of describing property that transfers to someone else automatically when one owner dies. An example is the way the family home that's owned by both spouses transfers to one spouse completely when the other spouse dies. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is similar to the community property example, but can apply to people who aren't married. This automatic transfer avoids probate.

Payable-on-Death accounts mean what they say: They're payable upon the death of the person who create the account. Life insurance and survivor's benefits from an annuity are similar. In all of these cases, a beneficiary is named so there's no need for probate.  Contact a probate attorney for details.

Personal Representatives Take Inventory of Assets, Pay Bills and Keep Precise Records.

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Independent Estate Administration Makes the Job Easier

When a will gives the personal representative permission to manage the estate independently, there‘s very little interference from a Texas probate court. Where wills exist, this is the most common way to settle estates in Texas.

The personal representative doesn‘t have to post bond with the court, and she doesn‘t require the court‘s permission to inventory the deceased person‘s assets, pay his bills, allocate money for family living expenses, sell off property to pay debts, distribute gifts to beneficiaries or handle most of the regular duties of estate settlement. She is required to give the standard notice to creditors and give an accounting to the court once the estate is settled.

Dependent Estate Administration is a bit more involved than independent, but is helpful if the personal representative needs guidance.  Contact a probate attorney for details.

Muniment of Title Proceedings Further Simplify Estate Settlement

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Muniment of title literally means the probate court has proven that a will is valid and has accepted it as a legal document. The process called muniment of title works by by submitting the will to the court and asking for muniment of title proceedings. The court determines whether the will is valid, and if so, the estate is settled privately without a named personal representative.

Three criteria are required for a muniment of title process. There must be a valid will, there can be no unpaid debts besides any that are secured by real estate, and Medicaid can‘t have a claim against the deceased person‘s property.

Although there‘s no court intervention, the person who submits the will to the court must provide a sworn affidavit once the estate is settled.  Contact a probate attorney for details.

What Happens in Texas When There is No Will or Probate Will

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When a person dies without leaving a valid will, he is said to have died intestate. The Texas state rules of intestate succession come into play when this happens. Intestate succession is a court determination of who in the deceased person‘s family is entitled to inherit property.

An application is filed with the probate court in Texas to start the process, and then there is a waiting period of approximately two weeks.

The court is involved almost every step of the way, including posting the notice to creditors and potential heirs that the estate is heading into probate. This gives any interested party time to step forward to make a claim against the estate, or in some cases of testamentary trust, contest the claim.

The court appoints an administrator, who then inventories the estate, pays debts, files taxes if necessary, sets aside assets for the heirs as determined by the court, and any other duties required to ensure that all open business that the estate had is closed. The last step is giving a final accounting to the court and asking to be released from administrator duties.  Contact a probate attorney or an attorney that understands what probate will is.

A Simpler Option for Small Estates with No Will

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There's an easier remedy when a person dies without a will and the estate contains less than $50,000 worth of assets. Heirs to the estate can simply claim property by submitting sworn affidavits to the Court.

Where some states seem to make the probate process more complicated all the time, Texas eases the burden of an already stressful situation with limited court intervention and a lot more autonomy for the heirs.

When it comes to the process of probate in Texas, David A. Munson, PC Law Offices can provide invaluable assistance. We offer probate services in The Woodlands and Houston, Texas. For more information and frequently asked questions Click Here.