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Estate Administration and Probate Archives

Estate administration rules are uniform and understandable

When a loved one dies, there are some basic principles of estate administration in Texas that will help the surviving family to know what to do. First, the survivors must locate all estate planning papers, such as a will and trust documents. The records of all assets must be accumulated and examined. If all assets were owned jointly with a spouse, or with someone else with the right of survivorship, then there are no assets remaining and no need or reason to file an estate or engage in estate administration.

Good planning can make for a smooth estate administration

Whether one lives in Texas or elsewhere, there are some common points to remember when getting ready for a first meeting with an estate planning attorney. One of the goals of estate planning will be to assure a smooth estate administration at the person's death. Usually, the bedrock of the estate papers in that respect will be the last will and testament.

Estate administration is more difficult without a will

In Texas and other jurisdictions, some of the biggest problems occur because a decedent did not have a will. The developing chaos over Prince's estate is an excellent example of oddities that can emerge where a wealthy celebrity dies without a will. The most dramatic incident is the appearance of an unknown female claiming to be the pop star's half-sister who is entitled to an equal share of the estate. The estate administration will not be finalized until the issue over the "long lost" heir is resolved.

Son files false probate papers to claim dead father's property

The function of a will in Texas and elsewhere is to allow the maker of the will, called the testator, to designate who he or she wants to inherit his or her assets at death. The will usually appoints an executor, who administers the testator's wishes and performs all of the duties required by law. The executor must take the will to the county courthouse and file it for probate. This also includes paying a filing fee and taking an oath of office to perform the duties according to law.

Estate administration can be hard work for the executor

When a loved one dies, certain procedures to settle his or her testamentary wishes must be started relatively soon after death. In Texas and elsewhere, when a loved one dies leaving assets, the first thing that the family must do is to locate the most recent will -- if, in fact, one exists. If the decedent regularly consulted with an  estate planning attorney, the process will probably flow more smoothly because counsel will likely have a record of all pertinent documents. Assuming there is a will, the original will must be filed in the appropriate office in the county courthouse. This will begin the estate administration process, also referred to as probate.

Texas families sometimes face estate administration issues

When considering important family and/or financial issues, it is typically helpful to seek the guidance of an experienced professional. Estate administration and planning are among the issues sometimes faced by Texas families that can be quite complex and complicated for those involved. If you are unsure about how to develop a secure and appropriate estate plan or have questions or concerns about an existing plan, you might choose to seek the legal guidance of an attorney who has experience in estate planning and inheritance matters.

Outdated will may require special estate administration actions

What happens when a relative dies and leaves an old will that has not been updated for decades? In one real-life case, an elderly aunt died leaving a will with no executor and giving the estate equally to a deceased brother, a sister who is incompetent and in a nursing home and her late husband's children. The rules of estate administration that apply in Texas are relevant to answering the question. 

Insurance policies usually not subject to estate administration

Texas residents may want to keep in mind some basic rules about the retirement accounts, annuities or life insurance policies of deceased loved ones or friends. If the policy or applicable papers contain a specific beneficiary designation, that asset will in most cases be paid directly to the listed beneficiary. The asset does not go through the decedent's estate and is not subject to estate administration. Thus, the asset is exempted from payment of estate liabilities, including from having to pay any state or death taxes owed by the estate.

Act to stop identity thieves early in estate administration

The pernicious activity of identity theft reaches even beyond the grave of a deceased person. One favored activity of con artists in Texas and throughout the country is to steal the identity of  a recently deceased individual. If they can access his bank accounts and existing credit cards, they can make a big score against a presumably defenseless victim. However, if you are the immediate next of kin and/or the person legally in charge of the estate administration, you can take quick action to try and prevent this from happening.

A revocable living trust can avoid probate and minimize taxes

The decision whether to have some or all of your estate pass by living revocable trusts under Texas law is one that should be made in consultation with an estate attorney or other qualified professional. Remember that each situation must be evaluated on its own facts. If avoiding probate is a goal that will benefit you and preserve your assets the best, then a revocable living trust should be included in the estate plan.

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