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Benefits of Probate

Houston Probate Attorney

When someone loses a loved one close to them, they will soon have to turn their attention towards managing the decedent's property. If the individual held assets in his or her own name, then the only way to transfer title is to go to court.

Probate is a court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid; once the will is proven by the court it is then "admitted to probate." In a typical scenario, probate proceedings are initiated when the person in possession of the will files an application to probate a will or if there was no will, then someone close to the decedent files an application for administration, both of which require a hearing in court.

In Texas, whether a will is handwritten or typewritten, its validity must be proven in court and it must take place within four years of the person's death. If a will is not proved in court, then the court shall deny probate. When a will is not proved to be valid, then the decedent's property is distributed to his or her heirs as if he or she died without a will. After the probate court has proven a will, the next step in the process will be the administration of the estate.

A beneficiary may expect to meet with the decedent's attorney who will read the will and hand over a check right there. In reality, settling an estate is a far more complicated process than that. Estate administration is the management and settlement of an estate by a personal representative who has been approved by the court. However, estate administration may not be necessary when the estate is small, or when the estate is set up in such a manner where no court action is necessary to distribute the property to the beneficiaries or heirs.

The Court Oversees the Personal Representative

If someone was designated in a will to carry out these duties, he or she is called the executor. When the decedent died without a will, the court appoints an administrator. Whether or not there was a will, the executor or administrator will have to be approved by the court and this person has legal obligations and duties to the court and the beneficiaries. If the executor or administrator acts dishonestly or unethically or takes estate assets for themselves, he or she can be held liable for any resulting damages and their appointment may be terminated by the court.

Estate administration involves collecting the decedent's assets, paying debts against the estate, paying estate taxes where applicable, and distributing the remaining assets to those who are entitled to it. One of the main benefits of probate is that the executor or administrator's actions are monitored and if they act improperly, they can be held legally liable for their actions and removed from their post as a personal representative, which is generally comforting news for beneficiaries.

For further information about the benefits of probate, please contact a Houston probate lawyer from Shepherd & Associates at (713) 993-7791.

Shepherd & Associates - Houston Estate Planning Lawyer
Located at 14090 Southwest Freeway, Suite 300
Sugar Land, TX 77478
Phone: (713) 993-7791
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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