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How Does Probate Administration Work?

By Cory Krueger — April 30, 2018 | Share This Post

Many people wrongfully assume the administration of assets after a death is a straightforward process. If a decedent leaves behind real property, one would think the property could be easily transferred to his or her next of kin. However, the reality is the administration of assets after a death is incredibly complex, and sometimes highly contested by heirs.

Many people wrongfully assume the administration of assets after a death is a straightforward process. If a decedent leaves behind real property, one would think the property could be easily transferred to his or her next of kin. However, the reality is the administration of assets after a death is incredibly complex, and sometimes highly contested by heirs.

When Do Assets Go Through Probate?

Estate planning is incredibly important for a number of reasons. One such reason is proper estate planning can prevent your assets from going through probate. If an individual passes away without leaving behind a will or other estate planning documents, also known as dying intestate, his or her assets will have to go through probate administration.

Probate is a legal process where a person’s final debts are determined, settled, and then the remaining property is passed to deceased’s heirs. Probate administration is court-supervised and when a will is not available, the courts administer the decedent’s assets according to state intestacy law. This means that courts do not take into consideration the desires of the deceased when distributing assets.

How Probate Administration Works

After a loved one passes, the first step in the probate administration process is to appoint an administrator of the estate. Family members can ask the court to be appointed to this position, however if there is a dispute over the appointment, the court will assign a neutral party who is paid an hourly fee out of the estate funds.

The administrator of the estate must then collect and inventory all of the deceased’s assets. Once this is done, they will have the assets appraised. Assets can include paychecks, life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, and property, among others. This can be tedious and difficult if the deceased had stocks, bonds, and other difficult to appraise items like antiques and exotic cars.

Once an inventory has been made and all items appraised, the administrator uses estate funds to pay any creditors, bills, taxes, and/or estate expenses of the deceased. This part can be tricky because some expenses might not be valid. An experienced probate administration lawyer can help estate administrators determine which claims are valid or not. Once all debts are paid, the remaining assets are distributed. If there is no will, then assets are distributed based on Texas intestacy laws.

Probate Administration Lawyers

The Houston probate administration lawyers at Hensley Krueger LLP have over 50 years of combined experience helping loved ones and beneficiaries through complex probate administration. Contact us today for a consultation.

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