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Austin Probate Lawyer

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If your loved one dies, the last thing you want to worry about is his estate. You’re upset and confused. You don’t know what you’re supposed to do. You need to focus on your family and funeral arrangements. If you’re the executor of your family member’s estate, you will need an Austin probate lawyer.

A Texas probate lawyer can serve as a referee. When different people claim they’re entitled to certain things, your Austin probate lawyer can handle these disputes. They’ll reason with everyone and come up with a solution that is fair. Call Eddington Worley today to schedule your free consultation with an Austin probate lawyer.

Why Hire a Probate Lawyer

When someone passes away, you need to open an estate. The estate is a case listing the assets and debts of your loved one had when they died. This may include real property, cash, and personal possessions.

Usually, when someone dies, they leave a will. This helps make the probate process a lot easier. You won’t have any question as to who gets what. Your family member includes all of this information in their will. It outlines who is entitled to what.

If there is no will, it can get confusing. An Austin probate lawyer will have to determine, under Texas law, who is entitled to what. Either way, people may still fight over their inheritance. 

Very few probate cases actually go to court. Unless a creditor believes you’re hiding assets, they have little reason to contest the estate. When you retain an attorney, it lends credibility to your case. It will reassure the creditors and the court that everything is on the up and up.

Texas probate lawyers can handle all of these issues for you. They can open up an estate and deal with all the creditors of the estate. Creditors are people and companies who argue that your loved one owed money when he died. They must be paid before anyone receives their inheritance.

This image shows a stressed man sitting across a desk from a judge.
It can be stressful after a loved one passes and creditors begin to call. That is what Eddington Worley is here for.

A Probate Attorney in Austin Can Help When Someone Dies

There are a few things you must do when someone dies in Texas. The first thing you must do is request a death certificate. You must also send a copy of the death certificate to certain parties, including:

  • Major creditors such as mortgage companies, car finance companies, stock and bond companies, etc.
  • The life insurance company
  • Pension company
  • Veterans administration

Your probate attorney will ensure all of the right people get this information. In order to receive life insurance, they’ll require an original death certificate. Once they get this, they’ll usually send the check to whoever is named the beneficiary.

Once the death certificates are sent, your Austin probate attorney will open an estate for the decedent. This has to be done within a certain period of time. This gives the creditors a chance to get proof of their debt and file their creditor’s claims. It also gives your attorney time to figure out exactly what all the assets an debts are. 

How Does an Austin Probate Lawyer Handle Your Estate?

The process to open an estate is different depending on your county. In Austin, you just need to go to the Surrogate’s Court and ask to open an estate. You’ll have to fill out some forms. You don’t have to go to court to do this.

Over the next few months, your Austin probate attorney will start gathering assets. He’ll determine what your loved one owned. This may include any of the following:

Real property

This includes the place where your loved one lived. It may also include rental and vacation properties. It can even include things like a timeshare.

Personal Property

The largest personal assets are usually vehicles. Your attorney will find out which cars are owned and which are still financed. Financed vehicles will have to be surrendered. You can’t sell or devise a car that still belongs to the bank. 

Other personal possessions

Depending on the situation, your loved one could have owned many other personal possessions. Of note would be valuable artwork, jewelry, antiques, etc. 

Bank accounts, cash, and stock certificates

It’s easy to find out how much someone had in the bank when they died. It can be a lot harder to figure out where they had their investments. Your probate lawyer can rely on financial professionals to help him do this.

Heirlooms

Even more than money, a lot of family members fight over heirlooms. Things that carry sentimental value can be the hardest things to distribute.

Your lawyer has ample time to determine the value of the estate. He just has to make sure it’s done before the deadline. In Texas, you have six (6) months to do this. This is why creditors aren’t allowed to file claims against the estate until it has been open at least six (6) months.

Probate Attorneys in Austin Will Settle with Creditors 

Once creditors find out your loved one has died, they crawl out of the woodwork. Anyone he owed money to will start calling. They’ll send letters asking for payment. Creditors you haven’t heard from in years will reach out to you.

They know it’s their last chance to get paid. If they don’t file a claim against the estate, they may lose their right to collect the debt. The minute it’s safe to file their claim, they’ll file a claim for the balance in full.

Thankfully, most creditors are willing to settle these debts. They know there’s a chance there won’t be enough assets to pay all the creditors in full. So, they’re willing to settle claims for less than what’s owed.

Today, a lot of the larger banks hire outside companies to handle their estate claims. When a customer dies, they close their account and transfer it to their probate department. Their estate department will then reach out to the family members. They’ll try to contact the executor directly. 

Dealing with Creditors

Your Austin probate attorney will try to negotiate with creditors. They’ll look to see how much is owed. They’ll offer a minimum to all the creditors. This offer will be on a pro-rata basis.

The pro-rata offer will be based on how much is owed compared to the assets. Let’s say that there are $100,000 in assets but your loved one owed $300,000. Your probate attorney knows that nobody is going to get more than 1/3 of what was owed. So it makes sense to offer them all a low settlement offer to settle their claim. 

If the creditors are smart, they’ll take the offer. They risk getting nothing if they wait for the claim to naturally close. By the time secured creditors are paid, there may be no money left. Secured creditors include the following:

  • Mortgage companies
  • Car finance companies
  • Banks who own personal loans tied to collateral
  • IRS tax liens
  • Judgments and other liens
This image shows a tax form.
IRS tax liens are included in secured creditors.

Secured creditors are paid before unsecured creditors. So, the mortgage company will be paid before the credit card companies. Your Austin probate lawyer knows this process. They can handle this while you and your family get over your loss.

How Can an Austin Probate Lawyer Help?

When a loved one dies, such as a parent, we don’t want to worry about legal issues. We don’t care that our dad owes a few payments on his truck. We’re upset and we need to grieve. We’re not in the mood to take phone calls or answer letters from creditors.

The good news is, there are plenty of experienced probate attorneys in Austin, Texas who can handle this for you. Probate attorneys specialize in this sort of thing. They focus their entire careers handling estate matters. 

If your mom or dad had a probate attorney draw up their will, he should be the first person you call. Get a copy of the will. Then, call a probate attorney you trust to handle the estate for you. The family attorneys at Eddington & Worley in Austin, Texas have decades of combined experience handling these cases. 

To make things easier on your family, call a probate attorney in Austin.  Schedule an appointment to sit down with him and ask any questions you may have. Take the following with you when you first meet:

  • a copy of your loved one’s will
  • Any bills or debt notices you’ve received
  • a copy of the life insurance policy
  • a copy of the death certificate
  • Any information you have about major assets and debts

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Eddington & Worley Today!

An Austin probate attorney at Eddington & Worley will review all of the relevant information. It paints a picture of what your case may entail. Some probate cases are easy. They open and close within months. Others involve more assets and debts and may take longer to get resolved.  These cases are more complicated and can take a year or longer to resolve.

Call Eddington & Worley today at (281)809-9185 and schedule your initial consultation. Let a compassionate and skilled professional handle the probate process for you. It’s time you and your family focus on each other, let us focus on settling the estate for you.