Probate is a legal proceeding that takes place after someone dies. During probate, the court oversees the administration of the deceased person’s estate. The goal of probate is to resolve any claims against the estate, such as those filed by creditors, and to distribute the deceased person’s property to heirs. If a will is involved, the probate court will typically honor the instructions contained in the document. If there is no will, the court distributes property based on Texas inheritance laws.
Probate can be expensive and lengthy. You can sometimes avoid probate through the use of a trust.
Though few people enjoy thinking about it, estate planning is often a necessary part of life. Leaving your estate behind with no formal instructions or legal documents can result in family disputes and monetary loss. With a qualified representative like Attorney Patti J. Hightower, however, you can ensure that your property is protected even after you’re gone.
Because every estate is different, multiple estate planning tools are available. The most common estate planning devices are wills and trusts.
Your last will and testament describes exactly how your property will be divided after your death. Drafting a will is one of the least expensive methods you can use to plan the disposition of your estate. However, wills must pass through probate proceedings. To ensure that your will provides all of the necessary information and cannot be broken, you should solicit the services of a knowledgeable Texas Probate and Estate Planning Attorney.
If you have significant assets, it’s often wise to create a trust instead of or in addition to a will. A trust is a separate legal entity that takes ownership of any property you designate. When you create a trust, you can decide which assets it will hold, who will receive them after you die and who will control the trust’s activity. Trusts do not need to go through probate, which can save your loved ones a great deal of time and money.
Two primary types of trusts exist: revocable and irrevocable. If you create a revocable trust, you retain ownership of the property in the trust for tax purposes, and you can make changes to the trust documents whenever you please. Alternatively, if you create an irrevocable trust, you cannot make any changes to its administration. However, irrevocable trusts can help you avoid estate taxes, and they can protect your assets from creditors.
To learn more about estate planning in Texas or to schedule an appointment, contact the office of Huntsville Texas Attorney Patti J. Hightower.