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Why Is the Probate and Settlement Process So Complex?

Updated: Jun 12

Probate Process in Houston
Probate Settlement

In Texas, the probate and settlement process can be complicated. When a court legally recognizes a person’s death, they must protect beneficiaries and the deceased’s estate. The rest of the process may take time depending on how large the estate is, how much debt the deceased owed, whether the deceased had a will, and what is included in it. Having an experienced probate lawyer by your side is essential to understanding this complex process.

Understanding the Probate and Settlement Process

When the court is involved, the probate process in Texas can be tricky. As an executor, you are responsible for representing an estate in the absence of the deceased. A responsible executor accounts for all assets and liabilities of an estate and should pay off all debts before the awards are distributed amongst the beneficiaries.

As an executor, you should also ensure that the estate is settled amicably for all parties involved. One thing to note is that if assets are placed in a revocable or living trust, they cannot be controlled by the will. The court may get involved if the assets are not owned under an LLC or S-Corp but instead owned as an individual. However, the court stays out of the probate and settlement affairs if the assets are under a revocable (living) trust.

Why Is Working with a Lawyer Important?

As an executor, you should be aware of any family disputes over assets. Handling estate affairs can be expensive, so a probate lawyer will need to account for all benefits. Depending on the wealth of the inheritance, the documented assets and debts, and family relationships, there is no set amount of time given by a court to settle the estate. This makes having a legal representative at your side even more essential.

What Nobody Tells You About Being an Estate Executor

Being an estate executor has its difficulties because you have to keep the creditors and beneficiaries’ best interests in mind. The beneficiaries of an estate should be updated on the status of their benefits in the event of a loved one passing away. In some cases, a will may also be contested, or beneficiaries may reject assets. A variety of accounting and legal auditing takes place during the probate process to ensure that each party gets the portion of the estate they deserve. As an executor, you must make sure that all documents relating to the estate are organized and sent to the correct resources. Navigating the specific business entities that the deceased created might be difficult, but a legal professional can help you through the process.

What Can Delay the Probate Process?

When a lawyer is acquiring the information needed to complete probate, they may run into issues that slow down the process. For example, if an estate has many beneficiaries, allocating funds to each person and keeping them updated on the progress of settlement might take time. If the beneficiaries live far from each other, documents will be mailed to them, which could delay communication.

If the assets are in different states or area codes, the process can lengthen even further. Estates are legally required to file tax returns in the form of the state-level estate tax or inheritance tax, so if an estate has failed to file, the probate process is slowed by a few months. The process can also be affected if the assets owned by an estate are unusual, meaning that it is difficult to pinpoint the monetary value of an item.

Speak With an Attorney About Probate and the Settlement Process

If you recently lost a loved one and are unsure of the litigation process behind their estate, an experienced probate attorney may be able to assist you. They could acquire all needed documentation, evidence, and information to ensure a recently departed loved one’s assets stay protected.

If you want to learn more about how our team could help you receive your inheritance or other estate benefits, contact our office at (281) 218-0880 or schedule online to meet with a member of our client services team today!

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