Serving Travis, Williamson, and Hays Counties
ESTATE PLANNING | PROBATE | WILLS & TRUSTS
Free consultations via telephone, Zoom (video call), or if you prefer we will come to you to discuss your probate matter.
Flat-rate fees are available for all probate proceedings.
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If you have recently lost a loved one, we can help guide you through the probate process whether or not your loved one left a will.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process through which the deceased’s assets are transferred after death and the deceased’s remaining debts are paid. Probate is supervised through the courts through either an independent or a dependent administration. Generally, independent administrations require less court supervision than dependent administrations. Typically, the probate process must begin within four years of the decedent’s death.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The probate process is different for every administration. The length of time the probate process can take depends on several factors, including whether or not your loved one left a will, whether or not someone will challenge the will (if there is one), and the extent and complexity of assets the deceased left behind, among other factors. For these reasons, giving a hard timetable is difficult to do and depends heavily upon the situation. Probate can often be completed within six months, but probate can take longer than one year in some situations.
The Probate Process in Texas
Probate is necessary when people pass away owning property titled in their names like real estate and vehicles with liens, as examples. Selling this property, or removing the recently-deceased’s name from this property, requires some kind of probate administration whether it be a small-estate affidavit, a muniment of title, or a formal probate proceeding. Further, some kind of probate proceeding is required to make sure that all of the recently-deceased’s debts are satisfied, including everything from credit card debt to potential Medicaid recovery claims. Simply put, probate is the process that resolves the recently-deceased’s title and debt issues.
The estate plan, or often the lack of an estate plan, that the recently-deceased had in place will determine what kind of proceeding is most appropriate and efficient.
If the person that passed away had a will:
- a judge will need to determine the validity of the will and either a formal probate or a muniment of title proceeding will be necessary.
In Texas, a will must be probated within four years after the person passes away. There is no good reason to wait to begin the probate process when there is a will, or when there isn’t one, for that matter. Generally, if there is no probate proceeding opened within four years after the person passes away, a muniment of title proceeding is necessary.
If the person that passed away did not leave a will:
- depending upon the size of the estate, either a small-estate affidavit or a formal probate will be necessary.
By far, the quickest and simplest proceeding to wind down an estate is the small-estate affidavit, but this option is available only in limited circumstances. Most often, unless the recently-deceased had a properly funded trust, a formal probate is required.
Generally, a properly funded trust will avoid probate. However, necessary steps must still be taken to properly administer the trust. This includes many of the steps required in a court-supervised probate proceeding. The successor trustee must, among other things, gather assets, contact beneficiaries, notify creditors and pay required taxes. This process can often be time consuming and confusing. Grogan Law, PLLC can help guide you through this process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken for a proper administration of a trust, even if Grogan Law, PLLC did not draft the trust.
How Can Grogan Law, PLLC Help?
Grogan Law, PLLC can help determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to navigate you through the probate process. In some cases, simpler administrations, such as a Muniment of Title or a Small Estate Administration are appropriate, which can take less time and require less resources to complete.
If you have recently lost a loved one and need help determining what kind of proceeding is appropriate to wind down their affairs, contact Grogan Law, PLLC today for a free consultation. Flat-rate fees are available for all probate proceedings.