Probate Attorney in Fort Worth
Compassionate & Skilled Legal Representation for Any Probate Matter
When a loved one dies, people often need space to grieve and process the loss. The legal requirements that follow a death do not provide the time to step back and take a breath.
At the Law Office of Mark M. Childress, our skilled Fort Worth probate lawyers can shoulder the stress and frustration of Probate administration.
Basics of Probate in Texas
Probate is the legal process used to distribute a decedent’s assets and respond to creditor claims. When there is a will, the named executor is charged with overseeing the process.
If someone dies in Fort Worth without a will, the court appoints an administrator to divide the property according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
The executor or administrator has a formidable job:
- Inventory all assets and debt
- Value all identified assets
- Notify creditors that the estate is in probate
- Sell/liquidate property if needed
- Pay all legitimate creditor claims from the estate’s assets
- Distribute remaining property or assets to heirs and beneficiaries
- React to will disputes
A probate attorney from the Law Office of Mark M. Childress can shoulder the burden of the probate process. Without this legal know-how, an executor must manage a formidable job while learning Texas probate law instantaneously. This unplanned education and responsibilities are required despite other family and work obligations.
Hiring a Fort Worth probate lawyer is vital. Taking an estate through probate without guidance leaves an executor vulnerable to consequences:
- An executor can be sued for breach of fiduciary duty
- An executor can be removed
- An executor can be held liable for failing or improperly paying taxes
Texas law requires a will to go through probate within four years of the death. If that does not happen, the intestate succession laws determine how assets are divided.
Assets Not Subject to Probate
Not all assets are subject to probate.
Payable on Death (POD) Accounts: Checking, savings, and certificates of deposit accounts can be designated as POD by the owner before their death. A form is completed that names the beneficiary.
Transfers on Death (TOD) Accounts: Stocks, bonds, 401Ks, IRAs, and other investment accounts may be designated to transfer on death to a specific person or persons when the owner of the accounts dies. A transfer on death deed can enable a decedent to leave their share of a co-owned property to a named beneficiary.
Community Property: A Right of Survivorship agreement can designate specific community property that automatically belongs to a surviving spouse or other co-owner without the need for probate.
Life Insurance: Beneficiaries of a life insurance policy can receive the proceeds without first going through probate.
Living Trust: Houses, vehicles, collectibles, bank accounts, and other property can be placed in a living trust. When the owner of the living trust passes away, the successor trustee ensures all beneficiaries receive their property from the trust in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
A comprehensive estate plan in Fort Worth is one way you can help your heirs avoid probate.
Contesting a Will in Texas
A will does not necessarily end the question of who will receive property from the estate. Any interested party can contest the will within two years of the date the will was admitted into probate.
There are many reasons whys someone might dispute a will. One child could feel they were slighted in comparison to their siblings. Perhaps a last-minute change was made to the will. Maybe the decedent marries someone shortly before they die. Maybe someone is disinherited altogether.
Being upset about a will is not grounds for a legal challenge. However, there are reasons that a will can be litigated:
- Will was improperly executed
- Decedent was under undue influence when they executed the will
- There is another, more recent will
- Decedent didn’t have the mental capacity to make the will
- Will was forged
In addition to probate administration, our legal team can also help clients with legal grounds to dispute a will.
Fort Worth Probate Administration and Litigation
Don’t tackle the convoluted legal terrain of probate on your own. Our attorneys’ depth of experience can help in probate administration and litigation.
Discuss your case with our Fort Worth probate lawyers today. Call (817) 497-8148 or reach out online.
Direct Access To Your Attorney
Our Attorneys personally handle each case themselves. You will have direct access to your attorney to be able to get the answers that you need.
Honesty and transparency are critical in building trust with your attorney. You will always know what is going on with your case every step of the way.
At our firm you're not just a case number, our staff will always know the status of your case and help to make your situation more manageable.
Our team understands that no two cases are the same. Your strategy will be tailored specifically to you and your family's goals.