Probate Administration and Alternatives

Probate is the legal process by which a court supervises the administration of a deceased person’s estate.

Did your loved one die with a will?

If so, we can help you identify whether a full administration or an alternative is your best course of action.

Independent Administration – In Texas, most probates are independently administered. That means that you can file the Will for probate, have the hearing to have the executor appointed; send required notices; file the required inventory, accounting and list of claims; and be done with the Court’s involvement. We can help you through this process.

Dependent Administration – In some circumstances, the Court supervises the executor’s actions even after doing the things required in an Independent Administration. This means that the executor has to ask the Court permission to sell assets, distribute assets, pay creditors, and to do all the other things required of executors. Dependent administrations may be required depending on the wording of the Will, if the estate is insolvent, if minors are beneficiaries, or as otherwise decided by the Court.

Muniment of Title – Sometimes, if the estate has no debts other than what is secured by real property, the Will can be probated as a “muniment of title.” When this option is available, after the hearing, the Will and order may be filed in the real property records to help transfer the title to the property.

But, what if your loved one died without a will? What are your options then?

Determination of Heirship – This alternative necessitates an application asking the Court to determine the identity and percentage of interest owned by the decedent’s heirs. This requires the applicant to swear to the decedent’s marital history, identify all children born to or adopted by the decedent, and otherwise inform the Court about the decedent’s family and property. Two disinterested witnesses will attend the hearing with the applicant to confirm this, and the Court will appoint an attorney to represent any “unknown heirs.” Often, the determination of heirship is combined with an administration option that is available to probate a will.

Affidavit of Heirship – This may allow the decedent’s heirs to transfer title of property in a decedent’s estate that is made up mainly by the homestead without resorting to a judicial proceeding.

Small Estate Affidavit – If the value of the decedent’s non-exempt estate is less than $50,000, and he or she died without a Will, this may be an option for you. This requires the applicant, distributees, and two disinterested witnesses to file an application that identifies the decedent’s property and debts, identifies distributees, and family history. Once approved by the Court, the affidavit can be used to collect assets and make payment, delivery, and transfer of title.

Application for Order of No Administration – This option is available if the decedent is survived by a spouse and minor child, and the value of the estate does not exceed the family allowance. A hearing is required, and the Court’s order authorizes others to pay or transfer property to the people named in the order.

This list doesn’t cover all of the possibilities. The attorneys at Lovelace Law, P.C. can help you determine if another option is better for you.

Call 817-953-9656 to schedule a free consultation with a probate attorney.

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