Probate is the court process to change the title of assets from a person who has died to his or her beneficiaries.
When a person who dies has a will, a court must determine its validity and officially appoint an executor to carry out the terms of the will. Typically, the person named in the will to serve as an executor is appointed, but occasionally a different choice is required. If a person dies without a will, we can help with probate proceedings to determine the person’s heirs and to appoint a person to administer the estate.
Whether or not an estate needs to go through probate depends on the nature of the assets and how they are titled. There may be easier probate methods that might meet a particular client’s needs (sometimes including small estate affidavits, or probating a will as a muniment of title only).
Our firm has extensive experience handling probate matters of all kinds. We will assist you with your probate legal needs, including:
- Determining the right process for your circumstances;
- Having an executor appointed by the probate court, and if there was no will, obtaining a ruling from the court to determine the rightful heirs;
- Filing all necessary court documents;
- Collecting assets of the estate and obtaining valuations;
- Requiring creditors of the estate to make proper claims to resolve debts and expenses;
- Guiding the filing of estate-income and estate-tax returns;
- Inventorying assets; and
- Changing titles, preparing deeds and distributing assets according to the will -- or if there was no will, according to the laws of Texas.
Sometimes families have disputes when someone dies. We have extensive experience handling probate disputes both in court and trying to resolve issues without the necessity of court. We handle every kind of probate dispute, including will and trust lawsuits; breach of fiduciary duty claims; will contests; claims of undue influence over the person who died; lack of testamentary capacity; will forgery; validity of wills, codicils and beneficiary designations; interpretation of wills, trusts and beneficiary designations; issues with pre-marital agreements; mishandling of estates; interpretation of charitable gifts; heirship disputes (including paternity) and many other types of will, trust and intestacy disputes.
We try to resolve estate disputes without going to court – including using alternative dispute resolution measures (like mediation, arbitration and family settlement agreements) but also handle matters in court when disputes cannot be resolved prior to then.
*Attorneys Michael Martin and Robin Apostolakis are Board Certified in Probate by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.