We’ve all seen when movies follow the story of a wealthy relative passing away and all the family waiting to pounce on the opportunity to seize the estate and enjoy the assets. Rarely, if ever, do we see those films explore the concept of probate. It’s not exactly exciting movie material to see an executor or personal representative gather and value the assets owned by the estate and distribute those assets to the beneficiaries. As uneventful and tedious as it may seem, it’s what makes the whole process successful.
The probate process can be a stressful task to tackle, but if you know a little more about it and how to prepare for it, it can be less intense than Jack Nicholson shouting, “You can’t handle the truth!”
Here are five essential things to know about probate in Texas:
- The Process of Probate – The purpose of probate is to ensure a decedent’s estate and assets are administered in accordance to their final wishes so fraud doesn’t ensue. Imagine everyone stealing your belongings after your passing; it’s not exactly a good picture. Probate is a way to freeze the estate until it is determined that the will is valid, all the family has been notified, all the property has been located and appraised, and all debts and taxes have been settled. Once all that is complete, the property is distributed and the estate is closed.
- Probate Timeline and Cost – No matter how simple the estate, it can take months to complete the probate process, sometimes over a year. It takes time to start the process and file any documents. Additionally, there could be contests that challenge the validity of the will or complicated assets that make it trickier to determine how to distribute. During that period, no one has access to probate assets. That means the accumulation of fees is likely, making it expensive and overwhelming for the family involved.
- Be Aware of Taxes – It’s important to note that taxes could apply to your inheritances. The specifics of it vary, but in most cases it requires that some form of tax be paid at the time of your inheritance. It all depends on the value of the estate or the assets.
- Not Always Negative – Because of how time-consuming and costly the process can be, probate is often seen in a negative light. However, it can give peace of mind to the family. It’s comforting to know a loved one’s wishes are carried out the way they wanted. There’s also the added bonus that you are protected against creditors or others showing up to interfere.
- Have a Plan – Now that you have a better understanding of the probate process, it’s wise to have an estate plan. To have a detailed proposal including a trust can help smooth the process for your loved ones, which could negate the need to go through the process at all down the line. This can help your family avoid the stress and hassle of making court appearances and facing the costs associated with them.
If you need legal advice regarding the probate process, contact Burrows Law Group today. We are more than happy to answer your probate questions and help get the process started for you and your family!