| Read Time: 4 minutes | Probate

When someone passes away, their assets and belongings must be sorted out. Sorting assets involves taking legal steps to ensure the proper distribution of the deceased’s belongings and wealth. Understanding the intricacies of this process is crucial because it ensures the orderly distribution of assets among heirs. Getting inheritance law advice from a probate attorney can help during this challenging time. In this article, we’ll review the basics, including inheritance laws, and provide tips on handling inheritance issues.

The Inheritance Process Explained 

Inheritance laws determine what happens to a person’s belongings after they die. These laws vary state by state and can be complex. They cover everything from property distribution to taxes. Furthermore, inheritance laws ensure that property is distributed fairly among heirs and protect the deceased person’s wishes. Understanding these laws is essential for anyone dealing with an estate. 

What Is an Estate?

An estate includes all the assets and belongings a person owns at the time of their death. Assets may include real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of dispensing the estate of a deceased person. Steps include: 

  • Validating the will if one exists, 
  • Settling all debts and taxes owed, and
  • Distributing assets to heirs. 

It is important to note that wills drafted by the deceased (holographic wills) are accepted in Texas. Attorney-drafted wills are also accepted. If there is a will, it should designate an executor who will be in charge of the probate.

How Long Does Probate Take?

Probate can take several months to a few years to complete, depending on several factors. These factors include:

  • Complexity of the estate. If the deceased has many assets and belongings, probate can take longer. It may take the executor time to find documentation on everything the deceased owned.
  • Disputes among family. Sometimes, family members disagree about who should get what, which can slow down probate. It might take time to settle arguments or go to court to work things out.
  • How fast the court works. Probate happens in court; sometimes, courts have many other cases to deal with. If they’re busy, it could take longer for probate to finish. 
  • The extent of the deceased’s debts. The executor must use the estate assets to settle debts and taxes before distributing to heirs. Missing documentation and significant debts can delay probate. 
  • Having multiple heirs. If the deceased has several heirs, distributing assets among them can take longer. This is especially true if there are disagreements or complications in determining each heir’s share.
  • Properties located in different jurisdictions. If the deceased owned properties located in different states or countries, the probate process may involve navigating multiple legal systems, which can delay the settlement of the estate.

It’s important to recognize that while probate can be time-consuming, seeking legal professionals’s advice can help ensure efficient handling of the estate.

Who Is an Heir?

An heir gets assets or belongings from the person who died. Heirs can include a spouse, kids, other family members, or someone else the deceased has designated. 

In Texas, if the deceased person had a will, they might specifically name who gets what, and these people are beneficiaries. For instance, they could leave their house to their spouse and divide their money equally among their children.

If there is no will, the deceased is said to have died intestate. Rather than having an executor, the court appoints an administrator to manage the estate and distribute assets according to Texas laws. In such cases, Texas intestacy laws dictate who inherits the estate. The priority of heirs according to those laws is as follows: 

  • Spouse—the first heir entitled to a portion of the estate with the amount dependent on whether there are children or other heirs;
  • Children—if the deceased has children, but no surviving spouse, the children are next to inherit the estate; 
  • Parents—if there is no surviving spouse or children, the decedent’s parents may be entitled to inherit the estate;
  • Siblings—if there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the deceased’s siblings may be considered next; and
  • Other relatives—if there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings, other relatives such as cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents may inherit. 

Knowing who becomes an heir is crucial when dividing an estate. Whether written in a will or decided by Texas laws, who gets what is guided by a clear system. Understanding this system can help you navigate what may happen to your loved one’s estate in the future.

Inheritance Advice & Tips 

When dealing with inheritance matters, it’s important to work through the process with care and consideration. Some practical tips to help you confidently navigate the complexities of inheritance include: 

  • Seek legal advice. Consulting with a probate attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations. 
  • Gather essential documents. Having the necessary paperwork, including the deceased’s will and relevant financial documents, is great for the initial consultation with an attorney.
  • Communicate with family members. Clear communication can help prevent conflicts during the inheritance process. 

Handling inheritance matters can be both emotionally and legally challenging. By following these tips, you can work through the inheritance process efficiently. Remember, consulting with a probate attorney can provide valuable inheritance guidance through this process.  

Navigating Inheritance Laws with Robbins Estate Law  

Understanding inheritance laws is essential for anyone dealing with the distribution of an estate. Knowing your rights and obligations can ensure that the process is fair for everyone involved. Seeking inheritance law advice from a probate attorney can provide valuable guidance and support during this challenging time.

If you need help handling inheritance or planning your estate, contact Robbins Estate Law in Austin, Texas. Our friendly and experienced probate and estate administration lawyers are here to help. Whether planning your estate or managing one, you shouldn’t be left wondering about the difficulty, time, or cost involved. 

At Robbins Estate Law, we exist to provide clear, reliable, and exceptional estate law advice to our community. Unlike many firms, we understand the importance of transparency and predictability when it comes to legal services. That’s why we offer flat fees on a clear schedule. We achieve this by spending time upfront to understand and create the best legal strategies for our client’s situation.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start working through the legal process after losing a loved one.

Author Photo

Kyle Robbins

Kyle Robbins is the founder and sole owner of The Law
Offices of Kyle Robbins. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.S. in Food Chemistry and Microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars