The complexity and difficulty of the probate process in Texas depends largely on the specific facts of the case. In cases where the estate is very small, probate may not be required at all. In cases with larger estates, detailed legal planning can be utilized to streamline probate as much as possible. Either way, it makes sense to do some estate planning to avoid probate where possible. Doing so can provide the family left behind with easier access to cash, avoid the probate judge, save money overall and keep matters private.
When a person dies, it may take weeks or months in some cases before his or her heirs gain access to the assets of the estate. The heirs will also likely be forced to come out of pocket for things like taxes, storage and property insurance until the probate process is complete. Avoiding probate also allows for the parties to make decisions without the approval of a probate judge. A judge’s involvement can increase the time required for even the most basic operations.
Probate is notoriously expensive, so taking steps to avoid it can save the costs of filing fees and attorneys. Even a modest estate might have thousands of dollars in probate costs. Probate proceedings are also a matter of public record, so the assets, beneficiaries, personal representatives and liabilities of the deceased person are made public. To the extent that planning is done to avoid probate in Texas, these matters can be kept private.
An attorney who has experience practicing estate and probate law may be able to help people establish, review or update their estate plan in Texas. The attorney might meet with the client to understand his or her needs and goals with regard to the distribution of assets and possessions on death. Then, the attorney may draft a will or create powers of attorney, trusts or other estate planning documents for the client.