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Houston Probate Attorneys

The death of a loved one is always an emotional, stressful situation, even without having to deal with the legal matters that must be tended to. At Wilhite & Associates, P.C., we will help guide you through the legal process during this difficult time in your life. Contact us for skilled legal representation; our Houston probate attorneys represent clients throughout Harris County including Houston, Northwest Houston, Champions, Spring, Tomball, Klein, the FM 1960 area, as well as The Woodlands and Conroe in Montgomery County.

When your loved one leaves a Will

When a Will is left, the first step is typically to file an application to the court to admit the Will for probate. Most wills – at least those drafted by attorneys – list a specific person to be the “executor.” An executor is simply the person in charge of making sure that all provisions of the will are followed as closely as possible. Also, most wills will designate that the executor serve as an independent executor and that bond be waived. (More on independent versus dependent administrations below) If such designation is not made, a bond must be posted before Letters Testamentary may be issued.

Letters Testamentary are essentially a document provided by the Court once the will has been admitted to probate and they are given to the executor of the will. These Letters give the executor the authority to administer the Estate.

When your loved one does not leave a Will

When no Will is left, the process is a bit more involved and complicated. First, an application to determine heirship must be filed, along with an application for Letters of Administration.

The heirship proceeding is the avenue by which the Court determines exactly who is entitled to inherit the property of the deceased. These typically include spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, etc. In the heirship proceeding, the Court will generally appoint an “attorney ad litem.” The ad litem will assist the Court by conducting an independent investigation into the heirs of the deceased.

Once the ad litem has prepared a report, an heirship hearing takes place in front of the judge. Two disinterested witnesses – that is, witnesses not related to the deceased – are required to testify regarding the deceased’s heirs.

If the judge is satisfied that all heirs have been discovered, the judge will sign a judgment naming such heirs and listing the percentage of the Estate to which each heir is entitled to receive. The judge will then typically issue Letters of Administration to the person chosen as the administrator. Letters of Administration serve essentially the same purpose as Letters Testamentary.

Dependent v. Independent Administration

The default rule in Texas is that all estates are administered as dependent administrations. This means that the administrator must make an application for court approval before the administrator can take any action, such as paying debts of the estate, selling estate assets, or even paying attorney’s fees. This is a very costly and time-intensive process.

Fortunately, Texas law provides for independent administration. This is a convenient and inexpensive alternative to a dependent administration. Within a certain time period after the appointment, the independent administrator must only prepare and file an inventory, appraisement, and list of claims with the Court. Court approval is not necessary to execute the terms of the will or distribute the Estate.

In order to be eligible, the will must specifically call for an independent administration. If the will does not call for such administration, an independent administration may still be utilized if all distributees under the will agree to it. If no will is left, then all heirs may consent to the independent administration.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. | Houston Civil Litigation Lawyers

Let Wilhite & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law assist you through this emotional hardship. In regards to your emotional distress, our probate attorneys will work hard to ensure that the probate process runs smoothly for you. Contact us by calling (281) 537-2171 or provide us with your contact information in our online form and one of our civil litigation lawyers will contact you promptly. Wilhite & Associates, P.C. handles Probate matters Houston or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Washington County, Grimes County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. represents clients from all over Southeast Texas, including:

Harris County - Aldine, Atascocita, Barrett, Barker, Baytown, Bellaire, Brownwood, Bunker Hill Village, Channelview, Clear Lake, Cloverleaf, Crosby, Cypress, Deer Park, East Houston, El Lago, Galena Park, Hedwig Village, Highlands, Hilshire Village, Houston, Hudson, Humble, Hunters Creek Village, Jacinto City, Jersey Village, Katy, Kingwood, Klein, La Porte, Louetta, Lynchburg, Nassau Bay, North Houston, Pasadena, Piney Point Village, Seabrook, Sheldon, Shoreacres, South Houston, Southside Place, Spring, Spring Valley, Taylor Lake Village, Tomball, Webster, West University Place

Montgomery County - Conroe, Cut and Shoot, Magnolia, Montgomery, Oak Ridge North, Panorama Village, Patton Village, Roman Forest, Shenandoah, Splendora, Stagecoach, Willis, Woodbranch, Woodloch, The Woodlands

Fort Bend County - Arcola, Beasley, Fairchilds, Fulshear, Kendleton, Meadows Place, Missouri City, Needville, Orchard, Pleak, Richmond, Rosenberg, Simonton, Stafford, Sugar Land, Thompsons

Waller County - Brookshire, Hempstead, Pattison, Pine Island, Prairie View, Waller

Grimes County - Anderson, Bedias, Iola, Navasota, Todd Mission

Washington County - Brenham, Burton, Chappell Hill

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This site is sponsored by George W. Wilhite, P.C. Our principal office is located in Harris County, Texas at 17101 Kuykendahl Rd., Houston, TX 77068.

The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own particular situation. The content of this site, including but not limited to written text, images, videos, and informational articles, has not been prepared, endorsed, or reviewed by any form of licensed medical professional, doctor, or physician. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, medical advice. All visitors are encouraged to consult with a physician or other licensed medical professional for any form of medical advice.

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