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Probate Attorney in Dallas, Texas

When a person dies in Texas, probate is usually required to settle the decedent's estate and final affairs. During the probate process, the court-appointed executor or administrator will gather the decedent's assets, pay taxes and debts, and determine beneficiaries. During this challenging and emotional time for you and your loved ones, it’s important to contact a dedicated Texas estate planning attorney for guidance through probate. 

At Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher, I feel honored to guide individuals, families, fiduciaries, and executors in the legal matters of probate and estate administration. I'm available to discuss your unique situation, help you understand how probate works, and identify assets that may pass through probate. In addition, I can guide you through Texas probate procedures and help you navigate crucial decisions when administering your loved one's estate. 

My firm proudly serves clients across Dallas, Texas, and the surrounding areas of Ellis County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, and Collin County. Set up a consultation with me today. 

What Is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process that is often needed to determine the validity of the deceased person's will and settle their final affairs and estate. Essentially, the probate process involves gathering and evaluating the deceased person's assets and property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to rightful beneficiaries and heirs. 

Most Texas probate proceedings take between three and six months. However, if there are disputes and disagreements between surviving family members, close relatives, and creditors about probate and estate administration, the process might take longer. 

Which Assets Generally Go Through Probate? 

Almost all kinds of property that a person owns can potentially be probate assets. Common examples include: 

  • Assets owned only in the deceased person's name, such as a home, vacation home, motor vehicles, and boats 

  • Personal belongings, such as household goods, clothing, jewelry, furniture pieces, and art collections 

  • A share of property owned as "tenants in common." 

Keep in mind that jointly-owned assets, instead of going through probate, are typically transferred to the surviving co-owner when one of the co-owners dies. Property held in a trust and certain assets with valid beneficiary designations will bypass probate as well. It’s vital to contact an attorney for help understanding your specific situation.

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How Probate Affects Your Surviving Family Members

Here are some different ways that probate might affect your surviving loved ones: 

  • Probate is expensive and may reduce the value and size of estate assets available to inheritors. 

  • Probate is lengthy and time-consuming. The extended period and delays during probate mean it may take a long time for heirs to receive inheritance. 

  • The probate court will determine how some of your assets and debts are managed. 

  • All of your bank assets and accounts will be frozen until the probate proceedings are finalized. 

  • Probate is a matter of public record, and maintaining your privacy and that of your surviving family member may be difficult. 

  • You may need to pay state, federal, inheritance, and estate taxes on your estate and probate assets. 

An experienced attorney can help you navigate the probate process in Texas, including what exactly you should expect every step of the way. 

Probate Administration in Texas

The different types of probate administration in Texas include: 

Dependent Administration of Estates 

In dependent probate administration, the executor or administrator will rely on the court to oversee the entire probate process. The probate court plays a huge role in making decisions during the process. Dependent probate administration can be expensive and time-consuming.  

Independent Administration of Estates

Independent probate administration requires the court to appoint an executor to manage the probate proceedings. Essentially, the executor will work independently, with little court permission, and without the court's supervision. Since the executor can act without the court's involvement or preapproval, probate is less expensive and can be finalized faster. 

The Texas Probate Process

In the state of Texas, the probate process begins once the named executor in the deceased person's will files a petition with the county probate court where the decedent lived before they died. The Texas probate court will schedule a hearing before the judge. The judge may approve the named executor or appoint someone else to act as an administrator if no one was named. 

Role of the Executor or Administrator

Once appointed, the executor or administrator will do the following: 

  • Gather and assess the decedent's assets and property. 

  • Fill inventory and appraise the probate assets. 

  • Inform beneficiaries and heirs named in the will. 

  • Inform creditors about the probate process. 

  • Collect all the decedent's income, including rents, dividends, interests, claims, and debts owed. 

  • Pay the valid claims to verified creditors and recognize the rights of others. 

  • Settle all debts with creditors. 

  • Pay estate taxes and file tax returns. 

  • Prepare and file the decedent's final income tax returns. 

  • Transfer the remaining estate assets and property to rightful heirs and beneficiaries. 

If you've been appointed as an executor of a deceased family member's estate, you need to speak with a Texas probate attorney right away. Your legal counsel can help you understand your duties and walk you through probate proceedings. 

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Navigating the Texas probate process following a loved one's passing can be complicated and stressful. Various tasks—including evaluating estate assets, paying debts and taxes, distributing assets to heirs, and setting probate issues—can make the entire process seem overwhelming. It’s important to reach out to a estate planning attorney for proper guidance. 

At Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher, I'm committed to guiding clients anywhere in Texas through the complexities of probate and estate administration.  

Probate Attorney in Dallas, Texas

If you need help with probate and estate administration, call me at Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher to schedule a simple consultation. I can offer you the personalized legal counsel and trusted advocacy you need to navigate probate. My firm proudly serves clients across Dallas, Ellis County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, Collin County, and the rest of the state.