Arlington, TX Probate Lawyer
If you are looking for an Arlington, TX probate lawyer, Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC may be able to assist your needs. Having years of experience, we understand the intricate process and laws that pertain to probate. At our law firm, we assist members of the Arlington community to ensure their final wishes are carried out. Without an estate plan in place, one’s estate may enter the probate process which will delay the distribution of assets, or they may go to individuals the deceased did not choose as their heirs.
Our probate lawyers works with members of the community to create legally binding documents that leave little room for possible litigation. Avoiding the probate process altogether is ideal as this speeds up the asset distribution process, reduces fees against the estate, and with the assistance of a probate lawyer it can be possible to avoid estate taxes.
Brandy Austin Law Firm, an Arlington, Texas probate law firm knows that there are many reasons why individuals may choose to avoid the probate process. They may wish for their heirs to be able to receive their inheritances as soon as possible. They may wish for the estate to not have to pay probate costs. And, they may wish to protect their family’s privacy. Probate is a public proceeding, which means that even after the fact, anyone can access the information contained within the proceeding—the description of each asset, its value, and who inherited it. It will also include the decedent’s debt record. For these reasons, many individuals will choose one or more methods to avoid probate. The professionals of our probate law firm serving Arlington, TX can explain these options to you and provide guidance that will better enable you to make informed decisions.
Assets that Automatically Avoid Probate
Even if the bulk of your estate passes into probate, part of it may automatically be excluded from that process and therefore, out of the public eye. Assets such as retirement accounts, jointly owned property, annuities, and life insurance are examples of this. Working with an Arlington, TX probate law firm can help you to consider ways to avoid probate. For example, if you were to create a living trust, it would be unnecessary to transfer ownership of these types of assets to the trust.
Avoiding Probate by Creating a Living Trust
If you create a revocable living trust, you can transfer ownership of your assets such as homes, undeveloped real estate, savings account, checking account, money markets, and much more. By transferring ownership of those assets into the trust with the help of our Arlington, TX probate law firm, these assets will no longer owned by you. As such, upon your passing they do not have to go through the probate process. Additionally, during your lifetime you will have access to those assets (including selling them or adding others) if you name yourself as the trustee.
Joint Ownership or Tenancy
If you add your intended beneficiary to the deed to your house, then they will automatically inherit your half of the ownership. This is another way to avoid probate. (If there is still a mortgage on the house, then they will be responsible for paying it.) This is often a good solution for assets such as homes, property, and cars, however an Arlington, TX probate law firm cautions that this is not viable for all types of assets.
When the Estate is Valued at Less than the Minimum Value for Probate
Each state determines a minimum value at which an estate must be worth before it is forced to pass through probate. That minimum dollar value varies, but it does not include assets that have joint ownership or tenancy, are owned by a living trust, or otherwise are excluded from the process. Consult Brandy Austin Law Firm, a trusted Arlington, TX probate law firm to learn if the estimated value of your estate is less than the minimum required for probate.
There are several ways to avoid probate and protect your family’s privacy—talk to an Arlington, TX probate lawyer at Brandy Austin Law Firm to learn more.
The Probate Process
When consulting with a TX probate lawyer in Arlington from the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, you may have questions about the overall probate process. Probate is a procedure through which the court system oversees management of a deceased individual’s assets. It is an expensive process that ensures that before the deceased’s estate is distributed to any heirs in the will, all of the deceased’s debts are paid.
Will or No Will?
Whether or not a will is present does not matter. If the individual who has passed has not left behind a will, the estate will go into probate automatically. Probate laws do vary by state, but there are many common similarities amongst jurisdictions. In Texas, probate typically follows the same set of steps. It often begins with filing various documents with the probate court.
A member of our legal team can do this for you to ensure everything is properly filled out and submitted to the proper authority under deadline. From this point, an executor will need to be appointed and the estate will need to be opened.
Before the probate process begins it can be a good idea to have a TX probate lawyer discuss how probate can affect your family and any alternative options that may exist, including the creation of a trust. By taking these measures, you might be able to avoid part or all of the probate process. This can save your heirs time, money, and the frustration often associated with the probate process.
The Types of Probate
In Texas there are three different mechanisms to administer an estate, and may have specific applications under the law. These types of probate are listed as follows:
- Independent administration
- Dependent administration
- Muniment of title
Designate a Beneficiary
If you have a life insurance policy or own assets in the form of a retirement account, then you are already on the way to avoiding probate by using one or more beneficiary designations. You can also do this with your checking and savings accounts in the form of a “payable on death” designation that you set up with your bank. An Arlington probate lawyer can provide you with more information about additional types of accounts and assets such as property that may qualify for beneficiary designation to avoid probate.
The Role of the Executor
An executor may have very defined responsibilities that must be fulfilled during the administration of an estate. Prior to accepting this role, it is prudent that the obligations are thoroughly understood; otherwise, there could be risks involved (i.e. civil action). We are more than happy to explain further what this role entails during a free consultation, so you can elect the right person as the executor.
Which Assets Go Through Probate?
As your Arlington probate lawyer from TX will explain, during the process of probate, assets that are jointly owned will go to the owner who has outlived the other. Any named beneficiaries will be given assets solely owned by the deceased, such as bank accounts or retirement funds.
Property that the deceased owned, especially if it was a percentage of property that was considered an investment, is subject to probate. Also, assets owned only by the deceased and that were not left to any named beneficiaries–for example, cars or boats–must go through probate.
However, if the deceased has a will and a beneficiary is not named in that will, the probate process will have a court appoint a beneficiary to manage the deceased’s property. This individual will have the power to distribute assets and to file documents in order to complete the probate process, as well as to legally accept a portion of the deceased’s property as payment for their help in managing the estate.
All that said, as you may notice just how complex things can get, and how each case is different. Often, assets avoided in the probate process can include:
- Joint accounts
- Property named in a living trust
- Awards from life insurance policies
- A retirement account that names a beneficiary
- Co-owned savings accounts or bonds
- Commissions, wages or salaries that were due to be given to the deceased before death
- Any co-owned vehicles or boats that are registered on death forms to be transferred.
There are more simplified procedures for probate that offer smaller values of the estate, which are called summary probate. Read about When Probating a Will Is Necessary.
Transfer Your Assets to a Trust
Trusts are a popular option for many who wish to avoid probate and enjoy the additional benefits associated with a trust. There are various kinds of trusts, and one type may be better suited for your needs more than other types. Our probate lawyer in TX can help you determine which option is ideal for you. When you transfer your assets to a trust, the trust becomes the owner of those assets.
Therefore, at the time of your passing, because the assets no longer belong to you they are not subject to the probate process. Depending on the type of trust you create, you may still have authority to manage the assets (including buying and selling them) throughout your lifetime.
Enter Into Joint Ownership with Rights of Survivorship
When you add a joint owner to your bank accounts, investments, business ownership, vehicles, real estate deeds, and many other types of property, that person will automatically receive full ownership of the property, this avoiding the probate process. There are exceptions to the rule, and one involves spousal ownership as per state law, if it applies.
It’s important to consult a legal professional before making the important decision to enter into joint ownerships. Though it may be an ideal solution for some, it may not be for you, so it’s critical that you have a thorough understanding of the ramifications. Our team at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC. can provide you the information you need in order to make an informed decision.
Alternatives to Probate
Sometimes an estate does not include assets or issues that require that it goes through the formal probate process. To find out more, discuss your options with an probate lawyer in Arlington, TX who knows what may work best for you based on your unique situation.
How a Probate Lawyer in Arlington TX Can Help
Any of your assets that are not protected by a living trust or a will are likely to go through the probate process. The best chance you have to avoid probate entirely is to hire an attorney to help you through the process. We can talk you through appointing an executor, create a living trust or will to help protect your assets after your death, and help distribute your assets to beneficiaries.
Most have heard of the often dreaded probate process. When creating an estate plan, probate is a component that many people make their best efforts to avoid. However, in most cases, probate can be an unavoidable aspect to resolving the estate of your loved one. In some cases, probate can be cumbersome and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t have to be.
A Texas probate lawyer in Arlington at the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC may have the ability to provide key guidance to those facing probate court. Rather than facing probate without an attorney, we can help you move through probate as seamlessly as possible.
The Probate Process
When a person passes away, probate is the legal process that occurs. The person identified as the executor of the estate files the necessary paperwork with the courts. During the probate process:
- The will must be proven as validated
- An overview of all assets and property is produced
- Any debts are paid to creditors
- Estate taxes are identified and paid
- Remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries
An attorney can help the executor manage the probate process. In most cases, lawyers fees are paid from the estate of the person who has passed away. In the absence of a will, or, when a person dies intestate, the probate court may identify an executor and even make decisions regarding the estate.
Advice That Aligns with State Laws
Having a clear understanding of Texas state laws is a crucial component to managing the probate process. This can ensure that you take the appropriate steps towards properly managing tax responsibilities. The Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC can not only help you manage this aspect to the probate process, but also has an up-to-date knowledge base of regulations, local laws, and procedures to ensure a smooth probate process.
Help with Managing Conflict
Conflict amongst heirs is not an uncommon component to the probate process. When a loved one passes away, there can be a number of unexpected twists and turns. Family may be left feeling slighted over the contents of the will, they may have expected there to be more, or, they may feel they were entitled to a larger inheritance. Whatever the case may be, when a loved one has passed away, the grieving process can take hold, causing family to behave irrationally.
This can be detrimental to not only relationships amongst the family, but also cause the probate to stall. Familial conflicts stand to cause probate proceedings to take longer than they have to. A probate lawyer in Arlington, TX can help the executor and heirs to manage conflict before it becomes much larger than it needs to be.
For an Efficient Probate Process
Most executors do not have as vast of a knowledge base regarding the probate process as our team at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC. Because of this, probate may take longer, especially for someone without legal counsel. An executor may be left to navigate the inner workings of probate alone, which, in some cases, may result in delays. We can assist in overseeing probate proceedings by guiding you through the process and mitigating complications that may arise.
The period of time following the loss of a loved one can be challenging to face. Managing a loved one’s estate can come with added stressors, especially when faced with the probate process. A probate lawyer in Texas can help you navigate this complicated aspect of the passing of your loved one during a time that may be filled with grief.
Is probate necessary?
Any assets the decedent owned at the time of their death must pass through probate unless the assets named a beneficiary. These types of assets include:
- Retirement accounts
- Bank accounts
- Real estate titled jointly
Using a named beneficiary for these types of accounts will pass that asset directly to the heir upon death. The rest of the assets, however, must pass through probate. These include:
- Family heirlooms
- Furniture and other household items
All of the assets your loved one owned at the time of their death will need to be distributed to heirs, sold to pay debts, or donated. This requires the experience of a Arlington TX, probate lawyer to help guide you through the process. As an Arlington TX, probate lawyer, we have the experience you need to guide you through the complexities of probate and make sure you complete all of your duties correctly.
Who is involved in probate?
There are many different people involved in the probate process. These include:
- You or someone else serving as the personal representative
- The Clerk of Court
- A judge
- Your probate attorney
- The IRS
Reading the “IRS” might concern you, but part of probating an estate is paying final income taxes. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. An Arlington TX, probate lawyer will be happy to guide you through the probate process, you can rest assured your loved one’s estate will follow the guidelines set forth.
Contact Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, Today
We have helped many clients just like you for years. We have a keen eye you need to make sure your loved one’s inheritance goes to the right people. Don’t leave it to yourself to determine whether your loved one’s estate needs probate. That could cause even more delay and may be more costly than simply hiring the right Arlington TX, probate lawyer from the start.
As the personal representative or executor of the estate, you don’t pay us anything out of your own pocket. The estate pays our fees and it pays yours, too. For your services in this process, you will receive payment once the estate is closed, which should happen within one year.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can guide you through the complexities and stress associated with probate. We’ve been down this road before and we know how to help. We look forward to working with you. For a consultation with an Arlington TX, probate lawyer, call Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC.
Call the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC Now for Trusted Legal Advice
Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC has a team of lawyers who are well versed in the probate process in addition to estate laws, tax regulations, trust formalities, and wills. We will be happy to discuss your needs and inform you of your options. You can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your best interests are being considered. Your attorney can be honest and upfront with you at all times so that no unnecessary time or money is wasted.
If you are ready to speak with an experienced TX probate lawyer in Arlington, call 817-841-9906 for a free consultation.