Probate Attorneys in Houston Preventing Costly Probate Headaches
The average American considers a will for the first time at nearly 57 years old. To add to this, only 33 percent of Americans have an estate plan. There are more people that believe estate planning is important than those who take action on it.
As there’s not enough knowledge or a clear route to estate planning for many, we’re here to change that and make a path where there isn’t one so that more people and valuable assets are safe from probate court.
When wills or estate plans are unclear and not legally sound, the probate court has a difficult time authenticating and, therefore, approving a person’s end-of-life plan. Our probate attorneys, therefore, take an exceptionally diligent and proactive approach to help you identify the best asset protection strategies to avoid legal troubles down the road for your simple or complex estate.
In addition, we explore legal tools like wills or trusts as part of the holistic estate planning process, meant to protect your interests and mitigate potential risks that lead to probate involvement.
Because the attorney-client relationship is at the very center of what we do and why we do it, our seasoned probate attorneys with The Hatchett Law Firm will step in and help you:
- Better understand the probate process
- Better understand estate plans and how they fit within the probate process
- How to use an estate plan, including wills and trusts, to prevent future issues
- How to protect your family right now with a probate lawyer
What is Probate?
Probate is an involved legal process for settling a deceased person’s estate. An estate is made up of money, property, and other assets. Your will should also include a plan for who will care for your minor children in the event of your death.
Assets are considered bank accounts, investments, retirement savings, real estate, artwork, jewelry, businesses, household furnishings, vehicles, electronics, and any other property of the deceased. Tools like wills and trusts delineate, for the family members and the court, who inherits what.
What’s important to note is that a will alone only distributes assets upon death and requires the probate process for authentication. Not all wills are written clearly, and therefore, the probate process adds time and cost to the overall estate.
During the probate process, death and grief can spark a range of emotions as it relates to the managing and distribution of the estate of a deceased person. Naturally, this can cause legal disputes between family members, executors, heirs, or beneficiaries. Oftentimes the people involved have questions about final wishes, how a will or trust was written, and many other concerns.
This scenario alone encourages proper planning when it comes to asset protection, and our probate attorneys can help. The probate process is always an easier process when there’s a clear will and trust working together as part of an estate plan, leaving little room for confusion or interpretation among internal family members and the probate court.
The less grey area, the better for everyone (legal or not) involved. This is something, as probate litigation attorneys, we can speak to from firsthand experience.
How Do I Avoid Probate?
Passing money, property, or other valuable assets down to our children or family members, for many of us, is the dream. Making life a little easier for the people we love and care about is the end goal.
To keep your estate out of probate and get it into the hands of the people who matter most requires upfront planning and the right protection strategies, including the following considerations:
- Living trust: The most straightforward and proven way to avoid probate is with a living trust. A living trust puts your assets and property in a safe, secure, and private third-party platform. A trustee manages and exchanges money or property through the trust, which removes the need for probate altogether, and that trustee can be you.
- Name beneficiaries on your other accounts: Not all assets have to go through a trust. When you name beneficiaries on your bank account, stocks, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and pension, these are payable to the beneficiary or beneficiaries upon your death without going through probate.
- Hold property jointly: To prevent your real estate from going through the probate process, you and your significant other can legally put both of your names on deeds, titles, and any associated documents. In the event of your passing, your significant other will automatically receive the property.
Whether your estate is simple and straightforward or more complex with layers, The Hatchett Law Firm has solutions for everyone.
What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a legal process by which your assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after your death.
Getting to the crux of the matter, an estate plan is an effective and legally sound approach designed to protect your family members, personal assets, properties, and money from the costly and lengthy probate process.
To achieve this, our probate attorneys can help you design a comprehensive estate plan, which allows you to:
- Maintain control of your assets while alive (and after your passing)
- Serves as an important tool, in the event you become incapacitated, to indicate who should make financial decisions on your behalf
- Designate a person or persons to take care of your minor children
- Distribute assets responsibly and fairly
- Minimize expenses
- Prevent conservatorship issues
- Avoid estate taxes
The Hatchett Law Firm has helped manage several probate cases through to resolution and can help you create a hassle-free path for your loved ones to inherit future income and assets without court involvement and expensive legal headaches.
How Can a Probate Attorney Protect My Future?
A probate attorney will be instrumental in helping you protect your family’s future and security while avoiding costly and lengthy legal battles when dealing with probate matters. At the same time, as probate disputes arise, we will represent your estate in court and work toward an effective resolution.
The Hatchett Law Firm will get involved in several ways to plan and settle your estate alongside the Executor and beneficiaries, in your absence, in adherence to Houston probate law.
Our duties might include:
- Collecting life insurance policy proceeds
- Paying inheritance taxes
- Identifying all estate assets
- Making the final distribution of funds
- Ordering property appraisals
- Preparing and filing all court documents
Outside of the final dissemination of your estate, we ensure you update your estate plan as life changes happen and also provide sound legal counsel and guidance along the way, as needs or issues arise that demand your attention and swift decision-making.
Count on us for proactive planning, and reactive and strategic counsel during litigation should probate issues come up. Book a free consultation with one of our probate litigation attorneys to discuss probate and estate administration, how to protect your personal property, and how to reduce stress for your loved ones today: 281-214-6541.