What Is Probate?

What Is Probate?A probate lawyer understands that legal issues surrounding estate planning can be confusing. These are often subjects people do not like to talk about. After all, who wants to think about a time when we are no longer here to support our loved ones?

At Brandy Austin Law Firm, we know that although it isn’t a popular subject, it is nevertheless a very important one. We have been assisting clients with estate planning and another probate needs for many years and are available to help you with drafting documents to make sure that your wishes are meant when you are no longer here.

Do I have to probate if the decedent had a will?

YES! Or at least some form of probate. When a person dies, the law says their estate must go through the probate process. This is true whether you die with or without a will. The probate process is to ensure that all of your property is legally distributed the way you wished and that all of your debts are taken care of. Although in theory this sounds like a positive and straightforward process, there are several reasons why it is often better to avoid the probate process. Your probate lawyer can explain how probate may affect your situation, but the following are common reasons why:

  • Amount of time: The probate process typically takes approximately 12 months, depending on the laws of the state you live in. In some cases, such as when a will is being contested, this process can take even longer. While your estate is being probated, your heirs are unable to access any of the assets you have designated for them upon your death. In many cases, this can cause a financial hardship for your loved ones.
  • Privacy: Once an estate is entered into the probate process, the files become available to the public. This means that all financial information, including who your heirs are, are also public, which could leave them vulnerable to nefarious actors.
  • Control of the estate: Although your estate may have an executor that you have named, the probate court is still in control and has final say over your estate.
  • Expenses: There are court costs and fees which are associated with the probate process. These expenses can run anywhere from 4 to 10 percent of the total gross value of your estate. In many cases, depending on that value and other factors, the probate costs could eat up a significant amount of your estate, decreasing the amount your heirs will receive.

Joint Ownership and Avoiding Probate

In situations where there is joint ownership – for example with spouses – then when one spouse dies, ownership of the property automatically transfers to the other spouse. This avoids the probate process. However, when the second spouse dies, the property must then be probated. All joint ownership does is delay probate.

Contact an Arlington TX Probate Lawyer for Help

There are ways that individuals can avoid the probate process and ensure that all of their wishes for their estate are met. A probate lawyer from our firm can meet and discuss all of the options that are available and which ones may be the most beneficial for your particular situation.

Call an Arlington TX probate lawyer today to set up a free consultation and find out more in detail the answers to the question, “What is probate?