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Do I Have To Probate If There Was A Will?

I have addressed in another blog several steps that can be taken as part of the estate planning process that help avoid the need for probate. If those steps were not taken, a full probate still may not be needed.

I am frequently contacted after the passing of a loved one about whether a probate of the loved one's Will is necessary or not. The answer is the standard attorney's reply, "It depends." Sometimes, if your loved one has no assets that are not already disposed of by beneficiary designation or payable on death provisions, there is no need to probate a Will.

This frequently happens if the loved one had already sold the home and was residing in a nursing home, and the only assets he or she still owned were liquid assets. However, if there is real estate still owned by the deceased or oil and gas interests that are not in a trust, some form of probate may be required to transfer the assets. 

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The Average Cost Of A Determination Of Heirship Proceeding In Texas

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

  • In Part One, I discussed probate as a muniment of title, which is usually one of the least expensive procedures.
  • In Part Two, I discussed the cost of an independent administration of the estate. Both of those procedures require the decedent to have had a Will.
  • In Part Three I discussed how if there is no will, the least expensive way to settle the estate through a court proceeding is a small estate affidavit.
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When Is A Living Trust A Waste Of Money

One of my biggest pet peeves over the years has been the over-selling of living trust packages to folks doing their estate planning. There are definitely times when a living trust is a good estate planning tool. However, for many individuals a living trust is an unnecessary expense.    

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What Is A Small Estate Affidavit Proceeding And What Does It Cost?

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

In Part One, I discussed probate as a muniment of title, which usually is one of the least expensive procedures. In Part Two, I discussed the cost of an independent administration of the estate. Both of those procedures require the decedent to have had a will. If there is no will, the least expensive way to settle the estate through a court proceeding is a small estate affidavit.  

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Probate As A Muniment Of Title: What Is It & What Does It Cost?

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. This type of probate is the least expensive formal, court-administered proceeding. 

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What Is A Muniment Of Title Probate, And When Is It Appropriate?

Texas law provides for a shortened, less complicated, less expensive form of probate in specific circumstances called probate as a muniment of title. This funny-sounding procedure really means that your loved one’s will is officially recognized as valid by the probate court and placed of public record as notice to third parties to honor the terms of the will for transfer of property. This is a very simple process compared to a full, regular probate.

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Slick Trick In Texas To Transfer Real Estate Without Probate

Texas law allows a slick trick to transfer title to real estate you own on your death without probate. For many people, their residence or other real estate comprises the biggest part of an estate that normally would require probate to pass title. Texas law has recognized an estate planning trick that is extremely effective and low cost, called a deed with an enhanced retained life estate or “Lady Bird” deed. This tool can be used for all types of real estate interests. If you have drawn up this deed to real property prior to your death, you might be able to avoid probate entirely, if the rest of your assets have been designated with beneficiary or payable on death arrangements.

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How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Trust?

 

People will frequently hear about setting up a trust as part of an estate plan. Typically, this is a revocable living trust, although some situations call for an irrevocable living trust. A revocable trust is one that can be completely or partially revoked either during the lifetime of the person creating the trust or afterward. An irrevocable trust means just that: it cannot be revoked.

Another form of trust is a testamentary trust. This is one that is set up as part of a will and does not become effective until your death. The trust I will be discussing here is a living trust. If a trust is set up under a will, that fee is included under the will preparation fee. 

Not every person needs a trust. Unfortunately, some "trust salesmen" have held big seminars as they travel through town to try to convince everyone that they need a living trust. 

Generally, unless you have a complex estate, you do not need a living trust to dispose of your estate. A living trust is a good idea if you own real property or mineral interests in another state. Sometimes, also, people prefer to use a living trust rather than a will to keep the terms of their bequests private. A will, if probated, becomes a public record, whereas a trust does not. There are other instances when a living trust is a good idea and instances when it is not.

If you have determined that setting up a trust is a good idea for you, you are most likely wondering how much it will cost you. Unfortunately, the standard lawyer answer is “it depends.”

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Probate Process In Texas Is Not That Scary

The thought of having to do a probate for a deceased loved one is often scary. Although the legal process can appear complicated to a layman, an experienced probate attorney can comfortably guide you through the process. The actual court appearances and steps required of you as a client are very low-key and relaxed unless there is a Will contest. 

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Part 6: The Cost Of Probate Alternatives

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

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