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McKinney Probate Lawyers for Administration and Litigation
Whether a person dies with or without an estate plan, there is a real possibility that at least some of his or her assets will be subject to the process known as “probate.” Probate is a court-supervised process for distributing a deceased individual’s property to his or her heirs. In Texas, there are a number of different forms of probate. Although the process can be stressful and time consuming, in some cases, it can also be fairly straightforward. Either way, consulting with McKinney probate lawyers is the best way to avoid a legal headache.
At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC, we have extensive experience representing personal representatives, heirs, beneficiaries and other interested parties in all aspects of probate administration in McKinney, TX. If you are preparing to go through probate, or if you have run into issues along the way, our probate attorneys can help you stand up for your loved one’s final wishes and enforce your legal rights.
Our McKinney Probate Lawyers Help with Probate Administration
We represent all interested parties in probate administration. This includes:
- Personal representatives
The decedent’s personal representative is responsible for managing the probate administration process, including paying off debts and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries (if there is a will) and heirs (if there is no will or the will does not address certain assets). Creditors are third-parties, such as lenders and credit card companies that may also get involved in probate to make sure they get paid out of the decedent’s estate.
Depending on whether the decedent left a will, as well as the size of his or her estate, there are a number of probate options that may be available. Most probate proceedings in Texas use what is known as “independent administration.” Independent administration allows the personal representative to perform his or her duties without seeking court approval, which speeds up the process and reduces the costs involved. Learn more about independent administration and the other types of probate in Texas.
Experienced Representation for Probate Litigation
In addition to representing interested parties in probate administration, our attorneys also regularly represent clients in probate litigation. With all that is at stake, it is not unusual for individuals to run into problems during the probate process. From questions about the content of a will, to disputes regarding a personal representative’s performance of his or her obligations, there are a number of issues that commonly lead to contentious disputes. We have extensive experience in cases involving will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty and a wide variety of other issues arising during probate administration.
In probate litigation, we focus on finding efficient, cost-effective and amicable resolutions to our clients’ problems. We are sensitive to the fact that you are going through a challenging time and if your dispute involves close family members or relatives, we understand how important it is not to let one disagreement lead to a lifetime of ill will. If you are facing a probate-related dispute, we encourage you to contact one of our McKinney probate lawyers to learn more about what we can do to help.
Our McKinney Probate Lawyers Explain How to Prepare for Probate in Texas
If you have recently lost a loved one and are preparing to go through the probate process, there is a lot you need to know. While probate can be confusing, it does not have to be scary, and understanding what you can expect during the process will help alleviate some of the stress involved.
Here are seven facts to know if you are preparing for probate in Texas:
Heirs and Beneficiaries are Different.
Although the terms “heir” and “beneficiary” are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings. An heir is someone who is entitled to a share of a person’s estate under the law of intestate succession, while a beneficiary is someone who is named in a will, trust, or other transfer document. If someone leaves his or her entire estate to named beneficiaries, the beneficiaries’ rights take precedence over those of the statutory heirs.
Personal Representatives Have Legal Obligations.
Serving as a personal representative entails certain legal responsibilities, and failure to meet these responsibilities can lead to personal liability. For this reason, family members named as personal representatives will often hire attorneys to guide them through the process.
Not All Asset Transfer Through Probate.
Probate is required any time a person dies with or without a will. But, even if your loved one left a will, there is still a good chance that all or a portion of his or her assets will transfer outside of the probate process. For example, trust assets transfer outside of probate, and there are a variety of other types of beneficiary designations that can result in non-probate transfers as well.
Probate Involves More than Distribution of Assets.
While distributing assets is often an important component of the probate process, probate is not just about distribution of assets. Establishing guardianship for minor children, paying debts and a variety of other issues must also typically be resolved through probate.
Creditors Get Paid Before Heirs and Beneficiaries.
Speaking of debts, in probate, creditors get paid before heirs and beneficiaries. Personal representatives must provide notice to certain creditors, and all creditors must be given the opportunity to assert their rights before distribution of the decedent’s estate.
There are Different Forms of Probate that Our McKinney Probate Lawyers Can Help You With
In Texas, there are two primary forms of probate: independent administration and court-supervised dependent administration. However, there are also simplified procedures for probating for smaller estates, and understanding which option (or options) you have available is critical to minimizing the costs involved.
Any Interested Party Can Challenge the Terms of a Decedent’s Will.
Finally, if you believe your loved one’s will should not be enforced, or if you reach an impasse regarding the interpretation of your loved one’s will, you have the right to bring a claim in court. While litigation is sometimes necessary, more often, family members and other interested parties will be able to resolve their differences amicably with the help of their respective McKinney probate lawyers.
Due to the complexities involved, we strongly advise anyone dealing with probate to seek experienced legal representation. If you are preparing for probate in Texas and would like to speak with a lawyer, you can contact an attorney online for a free consultation.
Breaking Down the Texas Probate Process
While the technical aspects of the probate process vary for dependent and independent probate administration, the key steps involved are generally the same. During probate, the decedent’s personal representative will be primarily responsible for:
Initiating the probate process – The probate process starts with filing the decedent’s will (if any) and an application for probate in the appropriate county court.
Identifying the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs – Taking into consideration the provisions of the decedent’s will (assuming it is valid) and any applicable provisions of Texas’ intestate succession laws, the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs will need to be identified.
Identifying and valuing the assets in the decedent’s estate – The personal representative will also be responsible for identifying and valuing the assets comprising the decedent’s probate estate. This includes any assets identified in the will as well as any other assets not covered by non-probate transfers.
Satisfying valid creditor claims – Once all probate assets are accounted for, any valid creditor claims must be satisfied using assets from the estate. The personal representative is responsible for providing adequate notice to creditors.
Paying the expenses incurred during probate – In addition to paying creditors, the personal representative must also ensure payment of all expenses incurred during the probate process.
Distributing the decedent’s remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs – After all valid creditor claims and probate-related expenses have been paid, the remainder of the decedent’s probate estate will be distributed to his or her beneficiaries and heirs.
Carrying out the other provisions of the decedent’s will - Finally, the personal representative must carry out any other provisions of the decedent’s will. For example, if the will provides for guardianship of a minor children, the guardianship will need to be established along with the distribution of the decedent’s estate.
Will Contests and Probate Litigation Can Also Be Handled by Our Probate Law Firm
In some circumstances, family members may disagree over the validity or interpretation of their loved one’s will, or other legal issues may arise during dependent or independent administration. When this is the case, will contests and probate litigation can prolong the administration process. These disputes involve their own processes and procedures, and anyone anticipating a probate-related dispute should promptly seek legal representation.
Speak with the McKinney Probate Lawyers at Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC Today
At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC, we offer free consultations and we will speak with you in strict confidence about your legal needs. If you would like to discuss your needs with an attorney at our offices in McKinney, call (214) 726-1450 or send us a message online today.
Disclaimer: While our primary office is located in McKinney, Texas, Nordhaus & Nordhaus provides legal representation to residents in the Allen, Frisco, Prosper, and entire Collin County area.