Applying for Probate
Probate is the legal process by which a will is proven to be a legally valid document expressing a decedent’s wishes. In Texas, the probate process is relatively straight-forward. The first step for a decedent’s family in the probate process is to obtain a death certificate and to locate the decedent’s original will. Then, the family should hire an attorney licensed to practice in the state in which the decedent died to advise them.
If a will has been executed correctly, the will is “proved up” by an attorney representing the estate of the decedent before a judge having authority over probate matters in the county of residence of the decedent. In the court hearing, the person named Independent Executor under the will is given Letters Testamentary which permit him or her to act on behalf of the estate. Following the granting of Letters Testamentary, the Executor will be required to file certain documents with the court, but in the vast majority of cases, the Executor will not need to return in person to court and may represent the estate free of court supervision.
Administering the Estate
The Executor’s job is to transfer legal title of all of the decedent’s assets by gathering, accounting for, and distributing the assets of the estate pursuant to the provisions in the will. This process varies widely in how long it takes depending on what assets the decedent held. In particular, if the decedent owned real estate in another state, the probate process will be lengthy, because the property will have to be probated in the other state as well. A trust can greatly simplify this aspect of the probate process.
Probate and Tax Experience
Scott has a wide range of probate experience in Texas. He has represented estates ranging in from value $20,000 to $150 million. In cases where a decedent owns few assets, no formal probate process may be required to transfer assets from the decedent to his or her heirs. Scott will help you decide the level of formality that is appropriate for your loved one’s estate and help you administer the estate in a timely and cost-efficient manner. In addition to probate matters, Scott has extensive experience as a CPA in preparing tax returns for individuals. He can assist your family by preparing the decedent’s final tax return himself or coordinating with the decedent’s CPA to do so. In addition, he can prepare and file any estate tax returns that are due for either federal or state purposes.
Scott charges for probate matters on an hourly basis. He will meet with you and your family for free to discuss how he might help you with the administration of your estate. After the initial meeting, he will provide you with an estimate of the cost of administering the estate. If you would like assistance with probating your loved one’s estate in Texas, contact him today.