What Is The Cost Of Probate Or Administration Of An Estate In Texas?
One of the first questions the family of a loved one that has passed will ask is, "What will it cost to settle the estate in Texas?"
The answer to this question depends on four key factors:
- What are the assets to be transferred?
- Were beneficiary or payable on death (POD) designations made on assets?
- Was there a Will?
- Do the heirs get along with each other?
Depending on the answers to these questions, the cost of settling an estate in Texas can vary tremendously, from a thousand dollars to many thousands of dollars. There is no blanket answer to this question.
Type Of Probate Necessary
Below, I will outline several different types of probate, administration, and probate alternatives in Texas, and the likely costs of each. Also, I will discuss when each different type of proceeding would be best.
- If there is a Will, the probate might be either:
- A muniment of title probate. This can be used only if there are no outstanding debts of the estate other than real estate liens. It is a shorter and less expensive type of probate. The cost of a muniment of title probate would be in the range of $1,200 - $1,500 in a normal situation. This includes the court filing fee of about $500.
- An independent administration (assuming the Will was properly drawn to provide for independent administration). This is the type of probate that will be required if there are outstanding debts of the estate. The procedure involves several more steps and additional expense over the muniment of title probate. The cost of this type of probate generally runs about $1,500 - $3,000 or $4,000, if the estate is not terribly complicated and nothing is contested. It can run much more if there are any assets to be transferred, heirs will not cooperate in steps that could be agreed upon, and many other factors.
- If there is no Will, the probate (which is legally an administration rather than a probate) might be handled through:
- A small estate affidavit proceeding. This procedure may be used if the value of non-exempt assets of the estate is less than $75,000, and the debts of the estate do not exceed the value of the assets. This is the least expensive procedure where there is no Will. All of the heirs at law must sign an affidavit setting out family history, and two independent witnesses must also verify the family history. The cost of this proceeding runs about $1,200 - $1,500 in a normal situation. Again, many factors can increase this cost.
- A determination of heirship proceeding. If a small estate affidavit proceeding is not appropriate, the court must make a formal determination of heirship under Texas law. An affidavit setting out family history, just like what is required for the small estate affidavit, must be filed. The court will enter an order setting out who are the heirs entitled to inherit the estate. This procedure is much more expensive than a small estate affidavit. An attorney must be appointed by the court to represent potential unknown heirs, and notice to potential unknown heirs must be published in a newspaper. Frequently, the determination of heirship is coupled with the application for an independent or dependent administration. The cost for the combined proceeding is described below.
- An Independent or dependent administration. Once the determination of heirship has been made, an administration of the estate will be necessary to distribute the assets to those heirs. If all the heirs agree, an independent administration can be conducted. This is much simpler and less expensive than a dependent administration, which requires court approval for many of the actions the administrator must take to collect, liquidate, and distribute the assets. The determination of heirship and independent administration generally will cost at least $3,500. If a dependent administration is required, the cost probably will be at least $5,000. These costs can go up substantially for a complicated estate, or if heirs do not cooperate in the proceeding.
Which type of action would be required is completely dependent on broad facts and circumstances. These proceedings and costs are based on Texas estates. If you would like to talk more about probate or the administration of an estate in Texas, please call Adair M. Buckner for a free initial consultation.*
*(The free consultation does not cover actual review of documents or giving legal advice on a specific situation.)
** Please remember that the cost estimates given are only general, ballpark numbers for the Amarillo area and the costs can vary widely depending on many variables in your individual situation.
*** This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, specific tax, legal, or accounting advice. We can only give specific advice upon consulting directly with you and reviewing your exact situation.
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