When your loved one dies, everything they own goes into an estate, which must go through probate. Probate is the process of validating a will, administering payment of expenses, taxes, and creditors, and distributing property to the beneficiaries. Given the number of interests involved, disagreements are almost inevitable. If you are in dispute over your loved one’s estate, a probate and estate litigation attorney in Texas can help protect your rights. Contact Robbins Estate Law today.
Steps to Probate
If your loved one had a will when they died, it likely names the executor, who will administer the estate and carry out your loved one’s wishes. The executor must bring the will to the probate court to get permission to distribute the estate. If there is no will, a family member can apply to administer the estate according to the laws of intestate succession. In Texas, executors and administrators are both called personal representatives. Once approved by the court, the personal representative will pay the deceased’s bills, taxes, and creditors. After paying all debts, the representative must account to the probate court. Then, they can distribute the remainder of the estate according to the terms of the will or Texas intestacy laws.
What Is Estate Litigation?
The probate process protects property rights and ensures that everyone entitled to estate assets receives their fair share. Interested parties, like creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries, can object at any point during the process. They can contest the validity of a will, the legality of the personal representative’s actions, or the legitimacy of a creditor’s claim. At any time, the beneficiaries can assert their right to preserve the estate’s value and their inheritance.
What To Do Before Estate Litigation in Texas
Litigation is costly and time-consuming but might be required to resolve a dispute about your loved one’s estate. The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, can help you prevent harm to your loved one’s estate, assert your interests, and take legal action against a personal representative. Here are some things we want you to know about how to prepare yourself for estate litigation in Texas.
Stage 1: Investigating Your Claim/Don’t Post on Social Media
After your initial consultation, we will begin investigating the facts and building your claim. You may want to post about your loved one’s last wishes online to share with friends and family. However, refrain from talking online about your intentions for any property. The opposing side can use your statements against you in court.
Stage 2: File a Complaint
Filing a complaint officially begins the litigation process. When your attorney has enough evidence to substantiate your claim, they will file your complaint. The complaint explains your desired outcome to the court and why the law supports your position. You may use estate litigation to have the court determine any of the following:
- The will’s interpretation;
- The family’s right to a fair share of the estate;
- Whether the representative committed wrongdoing or breached their fiduciary duties;
- The authenticity and value of a creditor’s claim;
- The family’s assertion of exemption property and allowances;
- To contest a guardianship appointment;
- To resolve issues with real estate, such as title, foreclosure, or boundary disputes; or
- To challenge or assert the will’s legal validity.
The other side will respond on the record so that you can understand their argument and the outcome they want.
Stage 3: Consider Mediation
As mentioned above, estate litigation can become expensive for a grieving family. However, you can choose to settle the case through mediation. While mediation might not be appropriate for every case, it can be a cost-effective and faster way to resolve your issue. Our attorneys can help you evaluate whether mediation is right for your needs. If you decide to pursue mediation, we can help you manage the process so that you can better preserve the value of your inheritance.
Stage 4: Attend the Trial
If the parties cannot reach a satisfactory compromise, a judge or jury will decide the dispute at a trial. Each side will deliver its arguments and present evidence. Your attorney will explain your legal arguments to the court. If you need to give testimony under oath, we will prepare you ahead of time. If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will decide the outcome of your case.
Stage 5: Appeal
If the court’s judgment is not the result you expected, you have a limited time to appeal. Your grounds for appeal will determine how long you have to file an appeal, but don’t wait. The deadline to appeal an estate judgment can be as soon as 30 days after issuance. If you want to file an appeal, you should get in touch with our lawyers right away.
How Our Attorneys Can Help With Estate Litigation
Robbins Estate Law, PLLC, has a team of experienced probate litigation attorneys in Texas who are ready to protect your rights. We will take the time to get to know you and your family so that we can tailor our strategy to your goals and needs. We have years of experience helping clients defend their interests and preserve their family’s legacy. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.