What will happen to your property when you die? Who will decide what happens to it? You, or the State of Texas?
If you don’t have any property to pass on, then it does not matter. If you do have property then you should understand how the process works. If you die without a will, what the law calls, “intestate”, then the Probate Code will specify who gets your property. Your family will have to file for an administration”, where someone is appointed by the Probate Court to pay your debts and distribute your assets according to the law. The administrator of the estate will have to work under court supervision. This can cost your family a significant amount of money in legal fees.
If you die with a will, what the law calls “testate”, then you can do 2 important things: first, you can specify who will get your property. Second, you can appoint the person who will be the “executor”, the person responsible for the payment of your debts and distribution of your property. Also, in Texas, you can designate your executor as an “Independent Executor”. This will allow him to conduct the business of the estate with a minimum of court supervision, greatly reducing the legal fees and time involved.
How is a Will created? A Will must be written. You may do a “holographic will”, writing it out in your handwriting. It is preferable, however, to have it witnessed by at least two people. In addition, if there is an appropriate notarization, then the process of giving effect to your Will will be much simpler and less expensive.
What is Probate? Probate is the process by which property is transferred to your heirs (people who get the property if you die without a will) or devisees (people who take your property under a Will).
What is a “Trust”? A trust is a separate legal entity created by a written instrument. It specifies the maker of the trust, the trustee and the beneficiaries. A trust may be created before you die or in your Will. Property transferred into a trust generally does not have to go through the probate process and may save your family time, money and taxes. Property may be transferred into your trust at the time it is created or at your death. There are many types of trusts and many reasons to create one.
Please call us to arrange a free consultation if you would like to learn more about Wills, Trusts, Estates and Probate.
1620 E. Belt Line Rd, Carrollton, TX 75006
Office Phone: (972) 242-8887
Copyright Law Offices of Kenneth S. Harter, 2014. All rights reserved.