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Decatur Texas Probate Law Blog

Notifying beneficiaries about probate administration

Closing a loved one's Texas estate is a lengthy process. Probate administration can take months or even years, depending on the complexity of the estate and whether any disputes arise. The executor has many duties to address, and one of those obligations is informing beneficiaries that probate of the estate has opened.

The executor must first file the will with the probate court. After the court confirms the validity of the document, the executor must notify the beneficiaries of the estate within three months after that validation has occurred. Of course, executors commonly take the time to notify beneficiaries before the three-month deadline approaches. Additionally, once the will has been validated by the court, it becomes a part of the public record, and any party who believes that he or she may have a stake in the estate can view the document.

Protecting assets important during probate administration

After the passing of a loved one, emotions can understandably run high. Some people may immediately want to go to the home of the decedent in order to be surrounded by his or her things and try to find some sense of comfort. They may even want to take an item or two for themselves. However, this type of action could cause major issues during probate administration, and the executor has the responsibility of ensuring it does not happen.

One of the tasks that a Texas executor has is to protect the estate's assets until the distribution portion of probate. It may seem challenging, but the executor may need to prevent loved ones from even entering the home due to the possibility of someone walking away with an item possibly meant for someone else. Even if the deceased said a specific person would receive an item or tagged assets, if that same information is not reflected in the will, it is not legally binding.

Probate administration for Carrie Fisher estate coming to close

It can take a considerable amount of time to settle a person's final affairs after his or her passing. Though probate administration is often a necessary process, it can be complicated by significant assets and by having to pay certain debts and expenses. Fortunately, when the process comes to an end, beneficiaries and heirs can receive their bequests.

Texas readers may be interested in reports indicating that the executor for Carrie Fisher's estate has filed documents showing that the time has come for the final distribution of the late actress's assets. Total appraisal of the estate was reported as being valued at over $6.7 million. The recently-filed documents stated that the debts and expenses associated with the estate administration had been paid and that final steps were ready to take place.

Guardianships can help protect individuals with special needs

Having a child with special needs can certainly present challenges for Texas parents. Of course, most parents meet these challenges head-on and will do whatever is necessary in order to ensure the well-being of their children. In some cases, this may mean pursuing guardianships when those children reach adulthood.

Though most children become adults at the age of 18 in the eyes of the law, individuals with special needs may not always have the mindset of adults. For example, if a child has autism, he or she may have multiple disabilities that affect certain capabilities. As a result, that person may not be able to handle his or her own affairs despite legally being considered an adult. At this point, parents may need to consider whether guardianship suits their cases.

Outdated will and estate plan problem in probate administration

Some Texas residents live by the adage that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. When it comes to probate administration, these two certainties definitely play an important role. Proper estate planning can make this process smoother, prevent problems and misunderstanding and insure that the wishes of the deceased are adhered to.

One problem that some Texas families face with probate administration is the fact that the deceased failed to update his or her will. In fact, this can result in several different problems. For example, after the death of a spouse, it is often common for the individual to remarry. In this case, there may be children from the first marriage along with a new spouse and maybe even children from this newer marriage. If the deceased's will is not updated, it is likely that his or her wishes will come into question during the probate administration process.

Beneficiary errors can complicate probate administration

When closing a loved one's estate, Texas personal representatives may have an easier time completing the process if the decedent left behind an estate plan. The instructions in this plan could make settling final affairs more straightforward during probate administration. Unfortunately, if mistakes with beneficiary designations have occurred, the process could become complicated.

Mistakes with estate plans are not uncommon, but they can cause a number of different issues. From not naming beneficiaries at all to naming the wrong beneficiaries, executors may have a hard time distributing assets and recipients could also find themselves in a tough spot. For instance, if no beneficiaries were named to important accounts, like life insurance or retirement accounts, the funds from those accounts will pass to the estate or be distributed in accordance with state law.

Presenting a copy of a will for probate administration

Closing a recently deceased loved one's estate can go much more smoothly if the person created an estate plan. Probate administration can rely heavily on the information in wills and other planning documents. It is important that the original documents are at hand, but it is not impossible to use a copy of a will if absolutely necessary.

Texas executors cannot simply hand over a copy of a will and expect it to receive validation like an original document would. The copy will have to be proven as containing the same terms as the original, which may involve bringing in a witness to corroborate an executor's claims that it is the same as the original. These steps occur during a prove-up hearing. Additionally, all heirs and beneficiaries need to be informed that a photocopy is being presented to the court so that they have the opportunity to contest its validation if desired.

Tips for finding a decedent's assets for probate administration

Acting as the executor of a loved one's estate is not an easy task. Even steps that may seem simple can present complications depending on the circumstances. For instance, during probate administration, it is the duty of the executor to find all of the decedent's assets so that the property can be put to use in paying necessary expenses and so that it can be properly distributed when that time comes. Of course, many Texas executors may wonder how to find all of the assets.

Certainly, if a loved one was not forthcoming with information about his or her belongings and had numerous accounts, an executor may not know where to start looking for property. If a person is looking to determine whether a loved one held any real estate, it may help to check the county assessor's website. This site may allow the executor to search for the decedent's name to determine whether any real estate was owned in the area.

The challenge of probate administration falls to executors

When settling the Texas estate of a recently deceased individual, someone needs to be in charge. There are many duties and obligations to address during probate administration, and it is important that those activities are handled correctly. This responsibility falls to the executor of the estate.

Commonly, an executor is a family member, attorney or financial professional who oversees the completion of probate. Before his or her passing, the testator has the ability to name a person to this position in the will. If the testator does not make this appointment, the court will consider available options and appoint a representative, which often falls to the surviving spouse or an adult child. The individual chosen must be ready to tackle the difficult process that is probate.

Many want guardianships strengthened in Texas

When most people want to take control of their elderly loved ones' affairs, it is out of a desire to protect their vulnerable family members from exploitation. It is not unusual for individuals to seek guardianships in order to legally obtain the ability to control these affairs. However, some parties worry that guardians are not doing enough.

There are concerns that numerous guardianship cases in Texas are not being handled properly. In fact, 41 percent of approximately 30,000 guardianship files that recently underwent review were found to be out of compliance. The state already has strong policies in place when it comes to appointing guardians, such as guardianship training, certifications and registration. The state also conducts thorough criminal history checks for proposed guardians.


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