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Probate FAQs

What is probate?

Probate is administration of an estate. The “estate” is the assets owned by the decedent at the time of their death. After a person dies, probate procedures prove the validity of the Will, appoint the Executor, and give the Executor named in the Will legal authority over the assets. Thereafter, the Executor gathers the assets, pays off debts and taxes of the estate, and distributes property as designated in the Will. The court will generally follow the provisions in the Last Will and Testament. Badeaux & Associates practices in the probate courts of Harris County, Galveston County and Brazoria County.

If the decedent died without a Will, an Administrator to handle the estate will be appointed by the court or agreed upon by the heirs. The probate or administration must be opened within 4 years after the death of the testator.

Some people think having a Will avoids probate. This is not the case. If an estate includes real estate or minor children, a formal probate action in court is generally required. The probate attorneys at Badeaux & Associates based in Clear Lake, Texas can represent you in court.

How long does probate take and are assets frozen during that probate?

99% of our clients' assets are not frozen during the probate process. When there is a valid will, Texas laws provide for one of the shortest probate processes compared to other states. Our first priority is getting the Executor appointed. This can generally be accomplished within 30 - 60 days, depending on the court. Badeaux & Associates practices in Harris County, Galveston County and Brazoria County. Once appointed, the Executor or Administrator of the estate has access to funds to pay all re-occurring expenses, for example mortgage, car payments and utilities, as well as funeral expenses and medical bills.

Will my heirs have to pay estate taxes?

Estate taxes are taxes paid on the total value of the deceased person's assets. Texas is a community property state, so if a couple's assets total $4,000,000, the deceased spouse's estate is $2,000,000. In 2016 the deceased person's estate value would have to exceed $5,450,000.00 before any estate taxes are owed. That's good news, because not many single people have more than $5,450,000 and not that many married couples jointly own more than $10,900,000. The estate tax law that applies is the estate tax amount at the time of decedent’s death; not at the time the decedent made his or her Last Will and Testament.

When and how are assets distributed?

Once the Executor or Administrator has been formally appointed, formal notices published, creditors and expenses paid, probate assets defined, itemized and valued, and all required probate documents filed, the attorneys at Badeaux & Associates will advise the Executors how much each beneficiary is entitled to and how they should be distributed their share. Badeaux & Associates will prepare the deeds to transfer title to the house, and assist the Executor with transferring title to automobile and stocks and remaining monies and personal property in any state or country.

What about title to the house, commercial real estate, LLC or corporation?

Many decedents owned a house, commercial real estate or minerals. Before probating estates for 30 years, Ms. Badeaux exclusively practiced [real estate] and [corporate law] for 5 years including working one year at Stewart Title Company in Houston, Texas. Ms. Badeaux brought her experience of transferring titles to real estate to Badeaux & Associates. Therefore, Badeaux & Associates is a one-stop law firm for decedents’ estates comprised of real estate and/or businesses. Read more about our work in: residential real estate, commercial real estate and business law.

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