Probate & Administration of Estates

probate process flow chart

Houston Probate Lawyer- Texas Probate Law & Administration Of Estates In Houston

If a deceased person leaves a will, the Executor’s duty is to preserve the Estate of the deceased (i.e. the “decedent”) and then to distribute or divide his or her property accordingly. Everything from real estate and money to stocks and personal property – becomes their “estate.” For cases where the deceased failed to leave a will, and the matter has gone through heirship, an estate administrator will be appointed to oversee the distribution of the property and estate of the deceased. Therefore, estate administration is the legal process of collecting the estate of the deceased, settling any taxes, debts, or claims against the estate, and distributing the rest of the property to either:

    • Heirs of the deceased (when a person dies intestate, or “without a will”); or

Beneficiaries of the dead (when a will appoints specific parties).

The estate, however, still needs to be managed, regardless of whether the deceased had a will. This can be a significant task for those named executors (in situations where a will exists) or estate administrators (in cases where no Will exists) – especially if the estate is of high net worth, financially complex, or subject to dispute.

If the whole probate process is troubling you, the Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC is here to help. Our probate lawyer in Northwest Houston, Spring, Cypress, and Tomball, Texas deeply understands that it can be challenging indeed to deal with the court system while you are suffering from the loss of a loved one. Our attorney at law is here to make the entire process as smooth as possible. We make time to learn about your case, educate you, address your probate issues and concerns, and finally examine a range of options for a successful resolution.

With over 19 years of experience, we know that the probate process can be costly and time-consuming. This is the exact reason why we are doing our best to straighten out the process and offer cost-effective solutions.

Our Northwest Houston, Tomball & Cypress probate lawyer is ready to deal with all aspects of probate and estate administration, including:

  • Evaluating the value of the property or estate
  • Identifying beneficiaries
  • Paying liabilities and property taxes
  • Validation of a Will
  • Appointment of a Personal Representative
  •  Estate distribution
  • Trust administration
  • Clearing title to real estate
  • Dealing with will contests and probate litigation

Our utmost goal is to give you a sense of security and stability at this challenging time. You can rely on our expertise and experience to take care of the legal process so you can focus on going forward and moving on in life.

Our Houston probate attorney at the Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, has extensive experience in helping designated executors and estate administrators manage the Texas estate administration process, involving heirship, probate, and estate issues. Call 281-970-8039 or email us online to discuss how we can help.

When A Will Does Not Exist: Texas Intestacy Law

When a person dies without a will, the estate becomes subject to intestacy law. Without a chosen executor, appointing an estate administrator is necessary. Usually, estate administrators are decided upon by the heirs of the deceased and appointed by the court. In the state of Texas, some specific people are unable to serve as estate administrators:

  • Incapacitated or disabled persons
  • Convicted felons
  • Corporations without designated agents in Texas
  • Any individual the court deems unsuitable

Being named as an estate administrator or an executor (by will) entails several fiduciary or legal responsibilities. This means that appointed parties represent interests apart from their own (i.e., the interests of beneficiaries/heirs and lenders must uphold a duty of care). For these purposes, it is crucial to work with an experienced probate law attorney to ensure proper management and administration of the estate – particularly when heirship needs to be determined.

Determining Heirship in Texas

Without a will, it can be a struggle to decide an estate’s heir. Under Texas law, following what is prescribed by probate law, heirship will be determined by a probate court rather than what the deceased would have desired. Estates less than $75,000 can qualify for a small estate affidavit. This process can be less costly than heirship, which also needs to be decided by the court for larger estates.

In general, the heirship process involves the following:

  • Application for Determining Heirship – The process starts with the filing of Application to Determine Heirship, which can be initiated by any heirs of the deceased, or by any secured creditors or elected representatives with an interest in the property of the estate. The applications should provide information about the decedent, information about all the heirs and their relationship, and specific details about the property, including personal and real estate. In some cases, oral or written testimony might be required to prove the accuracy of the information provided.
  • Notice to the Beneficiaries or Heirs – Texas requires notification of the proceedings to all the decedent’s heirs. Including posting of court notices, and newspapers when unidentified heirs present.
  • Unknown Heirs – Heirship proceedings allow all heirs to sign applications and that all of them be served with the filing. Texas probate courts appoint a court appointed attorney called an attorney ad litem to defend the interests of any unknown heirs.

Texas’s heirship proceedings can be a more challenging and expensive process of distributing an estate compared to proving a will. Especially when there are multiple heirs and minors, and when the property consists of real estate, complex business, and financial assets.

Estate Administration

Estate Executors and Estate administrators take possession of the decedent’s estate after being appointed. Any amount of money received from the estate, such as through current revenue streams, must be held in a separate bank account. Administrators and Executors are then required to settle claims (debts and taxes) and distribute the remaining assets according to the Will or probate court’s determination of heirship.

Independent & Dependent Administration of Estates in Northwest Houston, Cypress, and Tomball, Texas

Any assets that are determined to be exempt under the Texas Estates Code will be made available for distribution. Estate administrators may also be required to manage family allowances for one year after death if the deceased has a surviving spouse, minor children, or any disabled child. What happens next depends on the following circumstances:

  • Independent Administration – Texas allows an estate for independent administration. It is a simpler, less expensive, and faster way of estate administration that is free from court supervision. This process may avoid costly delays arising from court interference, requiring permission to manage the property, sell assets, pay debts, and distribute what’s left.  This is truly the best way to go about things in order to preserve as many assets as possible for the beneficiaries/heirs. Anything other than an Independent Administration takes longer and costs more — always.
  • Dependent Administration – In situations where there is a minor heir, no executor, and the beneficiaries/heirs disagree on specific issues or disputes on how to divide an estate, or who should be in charge, dependent administration is necessary. Unlike independent administration, this process requires court approval for any of the significant steps taken by the estate administrators or Executor. Although dependent administration may be a more expensive and time-consuming route, it allows the beneficiaries to ensure that the representative isn’t taking advantage of their power over the estate. And it might be the only choice if heirs are unable to agree, or when estates are of high net worth.

Did you become an executor or personal representative of an estate?

A personal representative is a more general term for an Executor or an Administrator.

Indeed, it can be stressful and overwhelming being appointed as an Executor, Administrator (i.e. personal representative) of an estate. But at The Law Offices of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, you can feel protected and secure in knowing our main priority is to make the Texas estate administration system as simple as possible for you. Troy M. Moore, our attorney at law, can provide you with the requisite knowledge and resources you need to quickly and effectively handle the estate planning and probate process of probate administration. Facing the loss of a loved one alone is already stressful enough. Especially if you are to be held responsible for handling their estate, call a professional Texas estate planning lawyer and probate attorney today at The Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, and learn more about your rights and responsibilities involved being named as an executor or representative in Texas!

Troy M. Moore, PLLC: Comprehensive Estate Administration & Probate Services

Our legal team at Troy M. Moore’s Law Office, PLLC, is equipped with refined experience regarding probate law. Our attorney at law has gained valuable insight into related practices, such as Trust administration, estate planning, and supplemental needs trusts that are needed to address even the most complex estates and cases. Our experienced probate attorney knows how to navigate various probate matters and potential complications, probate disputes, estate executors and administrator’s interests and duties, and the value of the estate.

Contact Us

Exceptional Probate Attorney Serving Houston, Texas.  We offer free 30 minute consultations on all prospective probate administration cases.  Come see us!

Confident, Committed and Genuine Legal Counsel

Troy M. Moore genuinely knows how difficult it is to balance your grief with your legal matters in probate and estate administration. Our attorney at law is available to guide and help you in both transactional and probate litigation duties. You deserve a law attorney who is responsible and attentive to your needs and is skilled in handling court processes, helping you to settle your case promptly.

With so many fiduciary duties and responsibilities, you must have legal guidance to protect your interests through each step. Throughout this time, you can rely and trust on our skill and experience to help you. If you would like to learn more information about your current situation and how our team can help, contact our law firm in Houston at 281-970-8039. We assist clients throughout Northwest Houston, Cypress, Tomball and the state of Texas.

When you come to the Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, you will meet a lawyer who will discuss your case with you for your initial consultation. We make and give you time to learn your story and identify your objectives. Only then we will be able to provide you with our unbiased judgment and give you the advice you need. We, at The Law Office of Troy M. Moore, will work tirelessly to stand up for your rights and give you legal representation that you deserve!  Reach out to us today for the answers to all your questions.