When someone passes, a probate of the “estate,” the person’s property and debts, occurs to enable the proper determination of who inherits property and how the decedent’s debts are paid. An “estate” is opened up whether a person passes with a Will, or without a Will, but there are significant differences.
When someone has a Will, the Will and Texas law determines who are the heirs and who will inherit property. Property of the estate is what is left over after burial expenses and debts are paid. With a Will, an “independent administration” is possible where someone is designated as an “Executor” and can make decisions regarding the estate without the court’s permission on each decision. A well drafted Will significantly reduces court costs, preserves the value of the estate, and ensures the decedent’s wishes are followed.
When someone dies without a Will, the government has default plans to determine inheritance. In this instance, fees may be substantial since the State has to come in and make decisions the decedent could have made in a Will and estate plan. An “estate” is opened in a probate court of jurisdiction and the judge has to authorize decisions regarding the estate’s disposition.
Proper estate planning starts with hiring a lawyer who drafts a Will specific to your intentions and in conjunction with Texas law. Yet a Will is only a first step in estate planning.
Next, one can set up certain estate plans to avoid probate and thus avoid having one’s assets publicly listed and go through a public process in probate court. Having assets that avoid probate is an important protection for your loved ones. Formation of Trusts is one tool used to avoid probate and keep your life confidential.
Retirement, life insurance, and estate assets are all considered by
Mr. Davidson in drafting up your comprehensive estate plan.
If you’ve lost a loved one and need to probate their estate, want to create a Will, or set up confidential estate plans that protect your assets and avoid probate, come in and see Mr. Davidson who will sit down with you and discuss your options.