Has your loved one passed? How to handle the estate can be confusing, and there are more important things to focus on at this grievous time. Probate Attorney Scott D. Reiner can help you through this unfortunate process.
Did your loved one leave a will? In Texas, when someone passes with a will it is called a “testate” estate. The decedent is called the “testator” and their wishes will be contained in the will. Probate Attorney Scott D. Reiner can assist with the probate of a will. However, it is important to apply for the probate within 4 years of the date of death.
Does the will name an executor? Does that executor have to serve? If the will names an executor, then that person can serve (or choose not to). Anyone interested in the estate can apply for probate. If the named executor does not want to serve but all other parties agree on another person, then the parties can allow the agreed executor to serve. Otherwise, the Court can appoint an executor.
Should I challenge a will? This can be a complicated question, but Estate Attorney Scott D. Reiner can assist in evaluating whether to take this step. Many wills contain a “no-contest” clause. The effect of this clause can mean that if a challenge is made and is unsuccessful, then other gifts (i.e. “bequests”) can be forfeited. This can be a big risk, and Wills Attorney Scott D. Reiner can assist an heir in evaluating this option.
What happens if a challenge is successful? Each case will differ. If a prior, valid will existed then that will may be probated. On the other hand, if no prior valid wills exist, then the estate will pass through “intestacy” (see below).
What is intestacy? Intestacy, or an “Intestate Estate” is an estate without a will. When no will exists, a decedent’s property will pass according to the laws of descent and distribution. As there is no will, there will be no heirs. Why are there no heirs? Because it has not yet been determined who can inherit.
How do I determine who inherits when there is no will? In Texas, when no will exists there must be a determination of heirship. The heirs can by multiple means, and the proper avenue to take depends on the estate. Estate Attorney Scott D. Reiner can assist if a determination of heirship is necessary.
Consulting a probate lawyer in Houston, TX isn't always an easy decision. Oftentimes, our clients are already dealing with the death of a loved one when probate issues develop. But retaining a probate attorney is essential.
You'll want an experienced probate attorney to represent your family if: