Probate

Probate

Texas probate statutes provide for both dependent and independent estate administration. The dependent process generally occurs when the decedent has died without having a will in place or there is a need for court oversight. This means the courts will appoint an administrator of the estate and issue Letters of Administration. This also means the probate process will last at least six months, providing creditors an opportunity to file claims against the estate. If you are appointed as an administrator, you have a responsibility to file a proper accounting with the court and request permission from the court whenever you make any distribution from assets of the estate. We can help you through the probate process, which can be very complicated.

When a decedent dies with a will in Texas, which specifies an executor, the estate may be administered using the independent administration process. The court will issue the estate executor Letters Testamentary which gives them authority to inventory, value, and distribute assets in accordance with the terms of the will. There are specific notice requirements which must be made to heirs of the decedent and requirements for notifications to allow creditors to place claims for unpaid debts. We have helped executors of Texas estates deal with the complexities involved in the probate process.

Muniment of Title is a tool unique to Texas. An attorney with probate experience can walk you through this simplified probate process. It is perfect for an estate that has no debts and no disagreements among the heirs of the estate. Generally, this process is helpful when real estate is the issue. The executor, who is named in the will, gets full authority to liquidate all assets and distribute the proceeds in accordance with the will as the Muniment of Title acts as evidence of ownership in the chain of title.

Contact Mary Lois Spain-Sipes, Attorney at Law, if you need assistance with any probate matters. We are in Decatur, Texas and provide probate help in North Texas including Wise, Jack, Montague, Denton, and Tarrant.

Alternatives to Probate

Many people are not aware that by creating a Revocable Living Trust they can bypass the probate process completely. Having a trust in place allows you to designate a successor trustee to handle all matters of your estate after your death. However, to completely avoid probate, all assets which do not have named beneficiaries, or have a transfer on death (TOD), or payable on death (POD) designation, must be included in the trust. Revocable trusts may be changed at any time, including changing the successor trustee or changing beneficiary designations.

Other Probate Alternatives

When a person dies without a will, and they do not have a complicated estate, there may be other options to probate. The most common processes include:

  • Affidavit of Heirship
  • Small Estate Affidavits

Each of these processes has different requirements and must be handled through the probate court. Each requires the documents filed with the courts be signed by two persons who were familiar with the decedent, but have no interest in the distribution of their estate.

Judicial Determination of Heirship

When a person dies without a will, and they have a complicated estate and many heirs, it may be beneficial to request a Judicial Determination of Heirship. This process may be used in conjunction with the dependent administration process, should the court deem it appropriate.

We also provide help with other matters after the death of a loved one including:

  • Collection of Final Paycheck
  • Informal Family Settlement
  • Sale of Property of a Minor without Guardianship

If you live in North Texas, including Wise, Jack, Montague, Denton, or Tarrant County and you recently lost a loved one, contact Mary Lois Spain-Sipes, Attorney at Law. We will discuss these options with you and help you determine the best way to settle your loved one’s estate.