Lawyer in Houston, Texas: Probate and Estate Administration
Helping You Quickly and Efficiently Settle an Estate
If you have been designated as the executor, administrator or personal representative of an estate, you want a knowledgeable attorney to help you understand the process, so that you can settle the estate expeditiously and in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
I am Board-Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. I am also a Certified Public Accountant, and I understand the estate and inheritance tax issues that arise in the administrative process.
I usually seek Independent Administration of an estate, so that you will not be required to obtain Court permission every time you make a decision regarding the estate.
If an Independent Administration is not obtained, the personal representative must obtain approval of the Court for actions taken, which can make the administrative process very expensive when compared to an Independent Administration. There are also several short cut procedures that may be used in certain limited circumstances (such as a Small Estate Affidavit).
I work with clients at all stages of the administration of an estate, from the initial filing with the probate court through final distribution of assets. Probate and estate administration generally includes the following:
- Application to admit the Will to Probate
- Appointment by the Court of a personal representative (called an Executor/trix if appointed in a Will, otherwise called an Administrator/trix) of the estate of a deceased person
- Determination of Heirship if there is no Will or if the Will does not dispose of the entire probate estate
- Resolving disputes and controversies involving inheritance rights and appointment of executors
- Publication of a Notice to Creditors
- Filing an Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims with the Court
- Filing an Estate Tax Return with the IRS (large estates only)
- Payment of liabilities of the estate
- Funding of trusts created in the Will, and distribution to heirs and devisees
Probate assets include assets that pass under a Will or to the heirs at law of a decedent but do not include assets that pass by survivorship provisions (e.g., JTWROS or POD account), by beneficiary designation (such as retirement benefits and life insurance), or under a trust agreement. As a probate litigation lawyer, I also negotiate and litigate disputes over inheritance rights, contested wills, and appointments of executors.
Estate administration is a broader term which encompasses the probate process. Estate administration includes marshaling all property of the estate to the extent appropriate under the circumstances (whether it is Community Property or Separate Property, and may include both Probate and Non probate assets). Estate administration also includes preparation of an estate tax return if necessary, paying all debts, funding trusts, and otherwise distributing the remaining assets to the intended beneficiaries.
As part of the estate administration process, I will also advise you regarding "post-mortem" estate planning. In my experience, significant tax savings, as well as other benefits, can be obtained by making informed decisions about the tax elections and timing of asset transfers, as well as the choice of assets taken from an estate. I will coordinate with your financial planners and other advisors to help you make decisions that are in your best interest.
For knowledgeable and efficient counsel in estate administration matters, contact my office; you may call me at (713) 599-1929 to set up a no obligation initial consultation. I am located at 1631 Dunlavy St., Houston, Texas. I accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.