The Alternatives to Probate in TX
The probate process can be a long one but fortunately, there are potential alternatives that may help you avoid it.
Losing a loved one is difficult enough. For family members left behind, the probate process can be a time-consuming process. While probate in Texas is generally a streamlined process, when we can avoid it, we do. The ability to utilize one of these alternatives depends on the assets in the estate.
Using a Small Estate Affidavit
The Small Estate Affidavit is a procedure that allows you to avoid the formal probate of a last will and testament, but to use it, the estate must be valued at $75,000 or less, not including property that is considered exempt. A small estate affidavit is filed with the court clerk and presented in a formal hearing before a judge for approval. If the judge does approve the affidavit, they will sign an order and the affidavit is used for distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
The Judicial Determination of Heirship Process
When a person dies without a last will and testament in place, the probate court may conduct a formal Determination of Heirship. This process involves the filing of an application with the court to appoint an outside attorney to find and represent any unknown beneficiaries. The attorney will conduct an investigation and afterward, a hearing will be held in which two witnesses with no interest in the estate must testify about the information included in the application. The purpose of the determination of heirship process is to determine which beneficiaries are entitled to a portion of the estate.
The Muniment of Title Process
The Muniment of Title process can be appropriate when the decedent had a last and testament, the only assets to be distributed is real estate and the decedent did not have any debts. During this process, the will is considered as proof of title so property can be passed on to the beneficiaries. While the muniment of title process will allow you to avoid a full probate proceeding, you will still have some interaction with the probate court. In order for muniment of title to be approved, certain requirements must be met. These are as follows:
- The decedent’s will must be valid and proven in probate court,
- The decedent had no outstanding debts, with the exception of those secured by real estate,
- There is no need for an executor to be appointed,
- Medicaid has not submitted a claim for benefits received or applied after March 1, 2005, and
- The will was presented to the probate court within four years of the death, or the applicant must prove they are not in default, which could require beneficiaries to be notified
Deciding whether probating a will as a muniment of title will work to properly transfer assets can be complicated, so it is always best to speak to an experienced probate lawyer.
Our Probate Attorneys in Lake Jackson Can Advise You of Your Options
At Cordoba Law Firm, our knowledgeable Lake Jackson probate attorneys can advise on your case and which probate alternative may be right for you, and help you through the appropriate process. Call us today at 979.297.2854 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.