Probate Lawyer in Dallas
Serving Rockwall and Surrounding Areas
If you have just experienced the death of a friend or family member, the last thing you might want to do is navigate the legal and financial hassle of probate. An experienced attorney can handle the legal system while you and your loved ones focus on getting through this painful event.
Alternatively, you may simply be looking ahead, wondering what this process may involve—and whether it might be avoided.
At The Cramer Law Group, we can help you understand everything you need to know about probate. We can help you navigate the process or even avoid it by establishing a revocable trust. No matter your current situation or future goals, you can trust Attorney Michael Cramer to listen closely to your needs and develop the personalized legal strategy you need.
The Probate Process in Texas
When a person dies, their death must be legally recognized. Additionally, their debts must be paid, and their assets must be distributed to beneficiaries—either according to a valid will or by Texas rules of intestate succession. This process is called probate, and most estates must go through it before beneficiaries can receive their inheritances.
In Texas, probate typically follows these basic steps:
- Filing for probate in the appropriate court
- Posting (a two-week waiting period, allowing for individuals to contest the will)
- Validating the will (when the court legally recognizes the decedent’s death and verifies a will or lack thereof)
- Verifying the executor (if named in the will) or appointing an administrator (if there is no will)
- Filing an inventory of assets (in which the executor or administrator catalogs all assets and claims within 90 days)
- Identifying beneficiaries/heirs (either through the will or per the rules of intestate succession)
- Notifying creditors (giving them the opportunity to file claims)
- Resolving disputes, contestations, grievances, etc. (through mediation or court hearings)
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
If a person dies with a will, the executor they named will generally have four years to file for probate. In the best-case scenario, probate should not take longer than six months. However, this process will become more complicated and time-consuming if the will cannot be located or someone contests the will (i.e. claims it is legally invalid).
Independent vs. Dependent Administration
One factor that determines how simple and efficient the probate process will be is whether it requires independent or dependent administration.
Independent administration is when the court appoints an administrator to submit an inventory of all assets and other financial factors. Once this inventory is complete, the administration can continue without court oversight. The decedent (the person who passed away) can include a provision in their will that allows for independent administration. Most estates in Texas go through independent administration.
Dependent administration is not as simple. If beneficiaries are arguing over the will or assets within the estate, the court will typically appoint a dependent administrator, who must obtain court approval at every stage of the probate process. Dependent administration is also more costly—it may cost thousands of dollars more because of the additional reporting requirements and judicial involvement.
Do All Estates Go Through Probate?
Generally, the only way an estate can avoid probate is if the estate is transferred to another person through a qualifying trust, insurance policy, retirement account, or another form of direct payment. Property and funds can also transfer to another person without probate if that person had joint ownership with a right of survivorship.
At The Cramer Law Group, our attorney can assist you with any and all probate matters. Whether you need to complete this process as quickly as possible, avoid it entirely, or contest an invalid will, you can trust Mr. Cramer to fight for your best interests while treating you with the utmost compassion and respect.