Managing Your Estate And Avoiding Probate Pitfalls

Probate is the process of the court administering your estate. It ensures that a decedant's debts are paid and his or her assets are correctly transferred to beneficiaries. A personal representative or executor will be sworn in as the estate administrator and the decedant's heirs will be notified. Property will be inventoried and distributed.

A well-crafted, comprehensive will that makes one's wishes clear can make the probate process painless. The estate planning lawyers at Kiefaber & Oliva LLP in Houston help executors navigate the probate process. We also represent clients in will disputes.

Each state has its own laws regarding probate and the state probate court oversees this process. In Texas, executors are able to carry out the terms of the will without much court supervision.

The Important Role Of Executor

Executors should be chosen carefully. They should be reliable, reasonable and fair and have the mental capacity to carry out the terms of the will. An executor must:

  • Document your property
  • Inform creditors of the death
  • Pay off any debts
  • File required tax returns
  • Defend the will if it is contested

The language in your will must allow for your executor to pursue independent administration. If this is not done, the beneficiaries may disagree and contest the will.

One way to avoid a will contest is to ensure that the testator or maker of the will is of sound mind when the will was created and signed. Witnesses and a notary are the best way to ensure this. A comprehensive will includes clear, legally binding language as to the wishes of the testator.

Another area that can cloud the estate administration process is if there is more than one state involved, for example if property is owned in another state.

A poorly written, incomplete or unclear will can result in the court becoming involved and making decisions. Choosing an executor who is unable, unwilling or unfit for the position can create additional substantial costs and delays. Even small estates can benefit from a clearly written, dated and signed and singular will.

The Time Is Always Now

If you have had previous wills that you would now like to change, or have not yet crafted a will, it may be in your best interest to work with an estate planning attorney in your area.

There is no time like the present to effectively plan for the future. Call our probate and estate lawyer at 713-391-8704 to make or change a will. Or contact us online.