Probate

  • Affidavit of Heirship 

An Affidavit of Heirship can be used to transfer title of the Decedent’s homestead without having to go through the probate process.  An Affidavit of Heirship can only be filed if the following are true: 1) No petition for appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted, 2) At least 30 days have passed since Decedent’s death and 3) Decedent’s estate has a value of $50,000 or less, excluding the Decedent’s homestead and other exempt property.

  • Small Estates Affidavit.  

A Small Estates Affidavit can be filed if it meets certain requirements set by the Texas Estates Code including 1) the Decedent passing without leaving a Will, 2) the entirety of the Estate except the homestead and any exempt property being worth less than $75,000.00 and 3) the Estate has more assets that debts.

  • Probating the Will 
    • Obtaining Letters of Testamentary
      • In order to obtain Letters of Testamentary an Application to Probate Will is required to be filed with the Probate Court. Upon final hearing, and after taking an Oath before the Judge, Letters of Testamentary are issued by the and allow the Executor to act on behalf of the Decedent’s Estate. If the Decedent passed away without a Will then other options are available to request the Court issue Letters of Administration.
  • Estate Administration
    • Determination of Heirship
      • A Determination of Heirship is necessary when a Decedent dies without a Will.  This procedure requires the Court to determine the beneficiaries of the Decedent’s estate in accordance with the Texas Estates Code.  After the determination is made, the Applicant can request the Court issue Letters of Administration.  
    • Obtaining Letters of Administration 
      • Following a Determination of Heirship, the Court will issue Letters of Administration to the Applicant.  The Applicant is first required to 1) prove that there is a need to administer an estate, 2) meet the qualifications set forth by the Texas Estates Code and 3) agree to undertake the duty of administering the estate.
    • Independent v. Dependent Administration.  
      • An Independent Administrator is able to administer the estate without undue Court intervention.  A Dependent Administrator requires substantial oversight from the Court. The Administrator must request and receive permission from the Court before making any distributions, selling any property, etc. for the estate.
  • Qualifying as an Administrator
    • Requirements under the Estates Code 
      • The Court can grant Letters of Administration to the following persons : 1) a person named as Executor or Administrator in a Will, 2) the surviving spouse of the Decedent, 3) the decedent’s next of kin, 4) a creditor of the decedent, 5) a person of good character, who resides in the county of Decedent’s death who applies for letters
  • Trust Administration 
    • When a Decedent has created a Trust, the Trustee may require assistance administering the Trust. The Trustee must administer the Trust in accordance with the terms of the Trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  Having a qualified expert to help administer the Trust can be a huge factor in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the Trust so that it can be most advantageous to its beneficiaries.
  • Will Contest 
    • It is sometimes necessary to contest the contents or validity of a Decedent’s Will.  This situation can arise as a result of a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: 1) the circumstances of the signing of the Will, 2) a questionable last minute change to a Will, 3) a change in Decedent’s life (like a marriage, divorce, or loss of a child) prior to the Decedent’s death that was not accounted for in their previously drafted Will and 4) health and mental capacity complications of the Decedent.

Guardianship

  • Minor Incapacity – At times there is a need to protect the person and/or assets of a child under the age of 18.  A guardianship for this person can be granted by the Court so that a Guardian has the ability to manage the physical and/or financial needs of the minor.
  • Adult determination of incapacity – Guardianships can be granted by the Court to help protect adults who are unable, to care for themselves a.k.a proposed ward.   There are several qualifications that must be met, for example, obtaining a Certificate of Medical Exam from a qualified Doctor, the appointment of a guardian and/or attorney ad litem to advocate on behalf of the proposed ward and the posting of a bond by the person/entity that will be acting as Guardian.