San Antonio Probate Lawyer

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Once someone dies in Texas, the Probate Court legally acknowledges their death and oversees executors as they settle the decedent’s outstanding debts and distribute the assets that remain to heirs or beneficiaries. Probate happens whether a will has been filed or the decedent dies intestate, without one. The only exception applies to small estates worth less than $75,000.

Texas employs a formula that allocates assets first to spouses and children, and then to more distant relatives if there are no closer heirs when the death is intestate. The process is complicated, and if you are an executor, heir, beneficiary, or interested party with questions, you can get answers from an experienced San Antonio probate lawyer at Begum Peláez-Prada PLLC. Call now to set up a consultation with our knowledgeable estate planning attorney.

Attorneys Assist Executors Who Probate Texas Wills

An attorney must represent executors or administrators of wills in Texas during probate. This is meant to safeguard all interests since an executor represents not only the decedent’s estate but also the interests of creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries. A lawyer could assist with filing the written application to admit a will into probate and then admitting the will, which can be contested immediately or up to two years after admission. Our San Antonio probate attorneys offer compassionate guidance to those navigating this difficult time.

What Happens Next?

The Bexar County Probate Court validates a will the executor or administrator submits while petitioning to open probate. The will must have been executed by the decedent and signed by witnesses, the decedent must be judged mentally competent to have signed it, and beneficiaries must be named. The executor then:

  • Affirms their intention to serve as executor
  • Opens a bank account in the estate’s name
  • Identifies and inventories the decedent’s assets
  • Advertises in a legal notice to alert creditors who have a claim that the subject has died
  • Pays creditors
  • Files the decedent’s final federal income tax form (Texas does not levy a state or inheritance tax)
  • If federal estate or inheritance taxes are due, the executor provides the federal government with an accounting

The final step is to distribute the gifts the decedent bequeathed to loved ones. Some assets do not pass through probate, and the executor is not responsible for them. These include real estate held in joint tenancy, retirement accounts, pay-on-death bank accounts, and insurance policies.

Federal Inheritance Taxes

Although Texas does not impose an estate or inheritance tax, if property or beneficiaries are in one of the six states that impose one, it may be due. Additionally, if an estate meets the criteria, there are federal inheritance taxes.

Intestate Succession

Decedents who die intestate leave the distribution of assets to the courts, which may not go as the decedent intended. Texas law favors spouses and children, but more distant relatives will inherit the assets if none exist. Failing to draft a will risks assets ending up in the hands of those the decedent did not intend. Estranged children and spouses can end up with assets intended for friends or charities. Our dedicated probate lawyers in San Antonio have our clients’ best interests in mind and can safeguard your estate through estate planning.

A San Antonio Probate Lawyer Settles Estate Efficiently

Whether you are getting older and are concerned about what happens to your assets when you die, or you are a named executor or beneficiary in a loved one’s will, the probate process is complex. Guidance from an attorney is either necessary or preferred. The attorneys at Begum Peláez-Prada PLLC are focused on our clients’ needs and could help you.

We are proud that Sasha Begum and Juanita Peláez-Prada have been named by SA Business Journal as two of 40 under 40 attorneys who excel. We excel because our clients deserve it. We strive to deliver competent and excellent legal services. Schedule a consultation with a San Antonio probate lawyer now and learn how we could help your situation.