After a close relative dies, there is often a whirlwind of activity like making funeral arrangements, notifying people, looking for your deceased loved one’s important papers, and the many other tasks that must get taken care of when someone dies in Texas. When you locate the will, another series of events will start. Someone will have to file the will and begin the administration of the estate.
A Texas estate planning attorney can handle your family’s probate case and help you avoid common mistakes that can delay completing the process. Let’s explore the question of how long does probate take in Texas.
It’s Not Like in the Movies
Hollywood often portrays probate as all the heirs piling into a lawyer’s conference room and a few lucky individuals waltzing out with a box of jewelry or a huge check a few minutes later. The reality of probate is nothing like that. Probate can take months, even if everyone plays nicely. When there are disputes, the probate process can take years.
Things That Can Make the Probate Process Take Longer
Here are a few examples of problems that can make probate take much longer and cost much more money:
- Will contest. A will contest can take the form of a new “surprise” will that was unknown to the rest of the family members other than the person who now claims that this is the last will of the decedent. Another type of will contest is when an heir claims that the will is a forgery or was the product of fraud, coercion, or undue influence. Any of these allegations will require a hearing, if not a full-blown trial. The court might need experts to testify about handwriting and other issues.
- Disputes over who should be in charge. Every family has people who insist upon being in charge of everything. No matter what the will says, one or more of these people might object to the person the decedent named as their executor in the will. Usually, this type of dispute will involve a hearing. Because these disputes often involve character assassinations, they can cause deep rifts within the family.
- Invalid debts. Some con artists read the obituaries to find targets for their scams. They gather just enough personal information about the decedent and the family to invent fake invoices and bills that they send with a demand for payment from the estate. Having to investigate these invalid debts and fight them can take time and resources.
- Arguments about the distribution of the assets. Few things cause fights in the family more than money. Despite the plain language of the will, there might be a friend or relative who claims that the decedent always promised to give them a certain amount of money or a particular item, like a family heirloom. It can be even worse if the will is vague about who is to receive which items or how much money.
- If the decedent was less than organized or secretive about his assets, it could take many months just to discover the accounts and other property. In these situations, the executor might have to wait for the end-of-year tax statements.
It is usually safe to assume that probate will take at least a year in Texas. The more fights and complications there are, the longer the process will take. Probate laws in Texas are unique to this state. There are no uniform national rules for probate. A Texas estate planning attorney can take care of the legal matters so that your family can focus on dealing with their grief and rebuilding their lives. Get in touch with our office today for legal help with your case, we gladly offer a free consultation.