When a loved one passes away, the next logical step for many families is to proceed to probate. Most family members don’t like to hear that, especially when all they’ve heard is how confusing, complicated, drawn-out, and emotionally draining probate can be — even if your loved one left a legal last will and testament behind. But it is an important legal process nonetheless, which begs another very important question: how much does probate cost?
This is a question we often hear, though we have to admit that it is not easy to answer.
While probate isn’t always necessary, it is often required or recommended. And that will mean expenses to cover costs associated with attorneys, the Court, accountants, appraisals, etc. And what that looks like for your family depends on various factors.
First things first: What is probate?
Probate law and representation involve the formal legal process of administering an estate after the death of a loved one. Their estate can include everything from money and physical property to assets and other items of value, and a court’s goal is to determine the rightful owner and legally transfer those assets to that person’s family members or beneficiaries.
The probate process can sometimes get complicated if there isn’t a will in place. However, just because there is a will doesn’t mean you can avoid the process altogether. Probate courts deal with many different issues, including:
- Probating an existing will
- Appointing an executor or administrator
- Approving an inventory of the estate assets
- Confirming the heirs of a decedent
- Creating an estate administration
How much does probate cost?
The reality is that no two probate processes are the same. One case could involve a legally valid will and an estate with limited assets. Another could be significantly more complex because there isn’t a will, or the validity of a current will is being disputed in some way. Each step may have additional fees. And complications can ultimately drag out the process, leading to more incurred costs.
Therefore, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cost calculation for the Texas probate process.
There are common fees, such as executor fees and many of the ones mentioned earlier in this post. But where you fall in that spectrum may not be clearly defined until you can sit down with a probate attorney, dive into your unique situation, and determine the best course of action. The good news is that, in general, probate expenses (whatever that final number is) can often be reimbursable from the estate.
Can we avoid probate costs?
If you’re required to go through probate, there isn’t a way to avoid the associated costs. With that said, a properly drafted will could limit those expenses, as will implementing any recommendations your probate attorney may have.
Another option is to create a trust. A trust is a fiduciary arrangement designed to let you decide exactly how you want your assets distributed and then transferred to your chosen beneficiaries. Unlike a will that only takes effect when you die, a trust can be created and managed during your lifetime. This is huge in that it allows you the ability to account for disability and incapacitation — not just death. On top of that, a trust allows for additional privacy and can help you avoid a potentially lengthy probate process.
Everyone’s circumstances are different. Therefore, proper estate planning for your unique needs could involve much more than writing a will. We are here to help you put together an estate plan that goes beyond the will with a trust, health care directives, powers of attorney, and various other documents that, when working together, cover all of your bases now and into the future. Our attorneys will help you create legal instruments to distribute your assets according to your wishes, nominate a guardian for minor children, minimize family disputes, avoid probate and estate administration, and plan for incapacity.
Start planning for the future today and protect your family’s assets with the help of our trusted estate planning attorneys. Our team is dedicated to creating peace of mind for our clients and their loved ones.
Please call Christman Attorneys for your legal needs today!
Please consult an attorney for advice about your situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice about your situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice. Our Christman Attorneys, PLLC team believes in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your circumstances.
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