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Common Misconceptions About Probate

Redding Law Office April 13, 2023

Unless you’ve had someone close to you die and been named the executor of their will, you likely won’t know a lot about the process of probate in Texas. However, it’s likely that you’ll have to take part in it at some point in your life, and it’s vital to understand some of the common misconceptions about probate and learn the truth behind them.  

If you’d like to speak with a knowledgeable probate attorney about your role as an executor or administrator and learn more about what you can expect from the process, contact the Redding Law Office today for trusted legal assistance. Attorney Chelsea Redding is able to help those in the Southlake, Texas region, including Tarrant County and Denton County, as well as the surrounding cities of Flower Mound, Keller, and Colleyville. 

Debunking Misconceptions About Probate

If I have a will, my estate won’t go through probate.

Most wills have to go through probate, though there are some exceptions on estates that contain only non-probate assets. These may include jointly-owned property, transfer on death accounts, retirement or life insurance accounts, or any asset that’s been placed in a trust. However, in many cases, there will at least be some assets in the will that require probate. 

Probate means that the state is getting all my assets.

Probate is simply the legal process of “proving” the deceased's will with the court, accounting for all their assets, then distributing them to the named beneficiaries. It is true that the process requires the executor to notify creditors and allow them enough time to step forward to collect payment on past-due debt. The executor may also be required to use some of the decedent's property and assets to pay back taxes. However, aside from nominal court and filing fees, the state will not simply take anyone’s assets.   

The probate process takes years to finalize.

Probate can often take longer than most people would prefer, but on average, it can be completed in under six months. That said, there are some cases that can take over a year to finalize but these are usually only for large and complicated estates, or if you’re dealing with litigation or family members questioning the validity of the will. 

Estate taxes will consume most of my estate.

Texas does not impose an estate tax or an inheritance tax, and this is true no matter how large the estate is. However, there is a federal estate tax that may be due for estates valued at over $12.92 million, but it’s only assets that exceed this amount that will be subject to the tax. 

I don’t need an attorney to go through the probate process.

While there’s no law stating you must work with an attorney when going through the probate process, most people find they need at least some help from an attorney, if only to consult about legal matters and ensure you’re following all applicable laws. Additionally, hiring an experienced attorney can help you should issues come up during the process, such as beneficiaries contesting the will or if you have to deal with probate litigation.

Probate administration is a big job, even for the most prepared and organized among us. However, you’ll be performing this function while also working through the grief of losing a loved one. It can be immensely helpful to have a professional working on your side and helping you through this difficult time.   

Put Reliable Legal Guidance On Your Side

If you’re in the Southlake, Texas, area and have recently been named the executor or administrator of a will and want to know more about what you can expect, reach out to the Redding Law Office to speak with an experienced probate attorney who can help.