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Planning for an inheritance for your loved ones may not be challenging, but it does require some forethought in order to take the estate planning steps necessary to avoid probate. If you’re looking for ways to avoid the probate process or you are the representative of an estate that is headed for probate, a Houston probate lawyer can provide information and assistance.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process by which a deceased person’s will is authenticated and administered, subjecting it to the taxes and debts the deceased owed at the time of death and ensuring that the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries according to the terms of the document. If an individual died without a will, probate can also involve determining who are the lawful heirs of the deceased according to the laws of intestate succession.

The process of probate includes the following steps:

  • A representative for the deceased’s estate submits to the court the deceased’s Last Will and Testament to ensure that the document meets the state’s standards for a validly executed will.
  • The representative notifies all of the deceased’s heirs and creditors that the will has been submitted.
  • Ownership of the deceased’s assets is transferred to the estate.
  • All debts and taxes owed by the deceased are paid to creditors.
  • Assets are distributed to the deceased’s beneficiaries.

Can a Lawyer Help Me Avoid Probate?

Yes, a Houston probate lawyer will be familiar with the legal options that can serve as an alternative to probate and help the loved ones and friends of the deceased to fairly distribute the assets without subjecting these assets to a long and exhaustive probate process.  In order to do saw, your lawyer will need to know more information about the assets you have, as well as your long-term goals for these assets. If you are a personal representative of the estate of an individual who left a last will and testament, a probate lawyer can also help you navigate the process and provide services that include:

  • Providing guidance as to the options that are available to you in every step of the process so that the decisions you make are informed ones.
  • Completing the paperwork that you must submit to the court.
  • Providing service to all the necessary parties. Many times, the probate process gets confusing. Efforts can be duplicated and requirements can be missed. Having an attorney to assist you helps to ensure that the process remains organized and ensures that time and effort is not wasted.
  • Advice and assistance focused particularly on the named executor and ensuring that they proceed properly with representation of the estate.

What Documents Can Help Me Avoid Probate?

The following documents can help you avoid probate:

  • A revocable living trust: This document transfers the assets to a trust while the owner of the assets is still alive. Upon death, the assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust and do not have to go through the probate process. This option is particularly beneficial when there is a family-owned business with an aging owner who wishes to transfer ownership of the business to his or her adult children. The children could be named as trustees, ensuring continuity if the owner becomes incapacitated or dies far better than the probate process would.
  • Payable on death and survivorship accounts: These documents are provided to financial institutions to effect a transfer of assets to a beneficiary outside of the probate process.

There are other documents that can also help you or your loved ones to avoid the time-consuming and expensive probate process. A qualified financial planner or a probate lawyer can help you explore your options.

Finding the Best Houston Probate Lawyer for You

A full-service probate firm can provide you with the assistance you need to set up your estate in a way that provides ease to your loved ones in distributing your assets after you die. Or a probate lawyer can help ensure that you have the tools necessary to adequately represent the estate of a loved one.

A Houston Probate Lawyer Here To Support You

Whenever you find yourself needing to reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for hours or days in order to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and on responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible. The fact of the matter is, one day you will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it will simply be to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass, or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help make sure your family and your future are well taken care of. This plan will often need to include one or several different kinds of trusts, and you can rest easy knowing that an experienced Houston probate lawyer has your best interests at heart.

Reach out today for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are worried that your loved ones may have to face probate after you pass away, or if you are working on the affairs of someone who has recently passed, a probate lawyer can be of great assistance. The probate process can be long, heartbreaking, and riddled with legal formalities. An experienced attorney will be able to help you either prevent this process for those you are leaving behind, or help navigate the process after losing a loved one.

Probate is a complicated process, but there are some assets that are generally not subject to it. Some of those assets include:

  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Property that is contained in a living trust
  • Pension plan distributions

There are many situations where probate is truly unavoidable, but this is not always the case. With careful planning and the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney, you may be able to completely protect your loved ones from having to deal with probate after you pass away. The utilization of trusts, gifts, and joint ownership of property are some common tools.