Denton County Probate Attorneys
Experienced Professionals Guiding You and Your Family in Highland Village, Flower Mound, Argyle and Surrounding Areas
When you face the difficult and overwhelming position of losing a loved one, having a trusted attorney by your side to help you navigate the Texas probate system can prove to be invaluable. In a time of such anxiety and uncertainty, though, many final affairs must be addressed. The procedures for administering a deceased loved one’s estate can be daunting if you attempt to do so without the help of a qualified probate attorney. The Denton County probate attorneys at Burrows Law Group have the experience, integrity, and understanding you need and deserve under such unfortunate circumstances. We invite and encourage you to call upon us at Burrows Law Group during such a time of need. We are happy to guide you through the days and months ahead as well as assist you in administering the estate in a manner that’s timely and as stress-free as possible.
The Probate Process
Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person’s death, where the court will authorize the management and distribution of the deceased person’s estate. Texas provides a relatively streamlined probate process, with legal proceedings often requiring minimal court fees and administrative delays. What many may not know is that the Texas probate system is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor but rather provides a few different options and alternatives based on what best suits your family’s needs. More specifically, Texas offers 2 kinds of formal probate – independent and dependent administration – and simpler transfer procedures as well for small estates.
When faced with the death of a loved one, it is extremely important for you to consult a trusted probate attorney to discuss the circumstances of your particular case, as probate will determine the outcome of your situation and the protection of your estate. The experienced professionals at Burrows Law Group will take the time to comprehensively explain the probate process to you, as well as the legal options within that process. We are compassionate advocates during what we understand is a difficult time. Let us earn your trust and consider consulting with us on your Texas probate needs.
Most Texas wills fall under independent administration, facilitated by an executor named in the will who:
- settles the estate, such as by paying debts, setting aside a family allowance, selling estate property, and distributing assets to the people entitled to inherit them; and
- does not have to post a bond (an insurance policy protecting the estate against losses caused by the executor’s careless or dishonest conduct).
Note that the executor is generally entitled to a fee (commission) of 5% of all money the estate receives and pays out. However, only transactions that have to do with managing the estate are counted; money that was in the estate at the time of death or that is distributed to inheritors is not counted.
Dependent administration, on the other hand, involves more court supervision of the probate process than independent administration.
One part of this process is the “muniment of title” process for transferring estate assets when:
- there exists a valid will;
- there are no unpaid debts, except those by real estate; and
- Medicaid has no claim against the estate for recovery of benefits received by the deceased person.
The dependent administration process begins when a person files the will and requests to probate the will as a muniment of title with the probate court. If the court decides there is little need for probate administration, it will admit the will into probate as a muniment of title, or evidence, to the estate assets. So, the will serves as an official document transferring the assets to the persons named in the will as the inheritors.
Note that in dependent administration, the court does not appoint an executor or administrator, though the person who requested probate as a muniment of title will be required to file an affidavit with the court within 6 months stating that the terms of the will have been carried out.
Small Estate Options and Other Alternatives
In situations with relatively smaller estates, it may be unnecessary to open a large probate court proceeding or use a muniment of title. If there is no will and the total value of the probate estate is $75,000 or less, then the inheritors can prepare a simple affidavit to collect the property.
Texas executors can also pursue a simplified small estate process if the value of the property does not exceed the amount needed to pay the family allowance and certain creditors. In this case, the executor will present an account that shows where the estate money went, and the court can decide to approve and close the estate. Alternatively, if the remaining assets following certain expenses (e.g., funeral costs, medical costs) do not exceed the amount of the family allowance, the court can issue an order of no administration, where the court may assign the estate assets to the surviving spouse and/or minor children.