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San Antonio Probate Lawyer

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Losing a loved one is usually quite emotional and difficult to handle. While grieving is painful and draining on its own, settling the deceased’s financial affairs makes it even more difficult. However, based on your relationship to the deceased, you may have to take care of the estate. If there is any good news, it’s that you don’t have to handle the process alone. Amid the pain, potentially squabbling relatives and complicated laws and regulations, your San Antonio probate lawyer will bring a sense of calm.

If you’ve never dealt with such a process before, the information here will help you. Whether you just lost a loved one or you want to be prepared for the future, knowledge is power. If you have specific questions regarding your case, be sure to reach out to a Texas probate lawyer for advice and support.

Call Eddington & Worley today at (281)809-9185 to receive a risk-free consultation with our probate experts. They have dealt with all types of probate cases and can answer any questions you may have. They can also guide you through the probate process, making it easier for you to mourn.

Probate Defined by Probate Attorneys in San Antonio, Texas

Probate is also known as estate administration. The term is used to describe the process of gathering a deceased person’s assets, paying their debts and transferring property. Exactly what this legal process entails and how long it takes depends on the specific circumstances. The length and complexity usually affect how much probate costs.

In some cases, the process involves proving the validity of the Last Will and Testament. Other times, it may be necessary to identify who the legal heirs are. In any case, the aim is to ensure the legal and orderly transfer of property to those who are entitled. Probate will be different in every case.

The attorneys at Eddington & Worley have the skills and experience necessary to handle your probate matters. We guide surviving spouses and children, other heirs, trustees, executors, and beneficiaries. We work closely with the client to determine their interests in the matter and what rights they have. They benefit from our wealth of experience in trust, probate and estate matters. We make sure they are aware of their rights, options, and obligations under the law.

Considerations a San Antonio Probate Lawyer Will Discuss with You

There are a number of things you may have to deal with when settling an estate. As noted before, each case is different but here are some of the common features.

Finding the Will, if One Exists

It is important to know whether the deceased left a will. This is critical to the probate process and it is, therefore, one of the first things to address. If you think there may be a will, you need to locate it. While some people get an estate plan drawn up and tell their relatives where the documents are, others don’t. You will need to check their safety deposit box or wherever they have collected lots of documents. You may also need to check with their attorney for assistance. The original document must be located since it is rare for a copy to be probated. Once you have the will, an attorney will have to review it to determine if it can take effect legally. This is called admitting the will to probate.

This image shows a last will and testament. A San Antonio probate lawyer will be an expert at handling your loved one's last wishes.

Handling Funeral Arrangements

You may not think that funeral arrangements are part of probate but they are. The funeral is one of the first matters that get taken care of following a death. Whoever is handling it should get an itemized statement before signing a contract with the funeral home. The funeral service and other proceedings are usually paid for from the deceased’s estate. You need to ensure the contract doesn’t make the planners or other survivors responsible for the bill. If you have concerns, have an attorney look over everything.

Under Texas law, funeral expenses are given high priority among the claims against an estate. The first $15 000 has to be paid before anything else. If the cost is higher, the rest of the money is treated in the same way as other unsecured debts. If you or another relative opts to pay the funeral home, you should be reimbursed by the estate.

Getting Death Certificates

When you have to conduct business on the deceased’s behalf, you will need to have the death certificate. Given the range of things you may have to do, you may need more than one certificate. The death certificate provides information which will be necessary to begin probating the will or opening estate administration. Having all the details close at hand can help things to go more smoothly. You probably won’t remember all the facts so the document will be a big help. You may also need the certificate to collect insurance proceeds, access bank funds, or access to a safe deposit box.

Obtaining Information about the Deceased’s Assets and Debts

Collecting assets and paying debts is a significant part of probate. The more information you can gather about these, the more efficiently they can be handled. Knowing the assets and debts helps to determine whether the estate is solvent. These details also help to inform how the rest of the probate should be handled. In a best-case scenario, you’ll have a good idea about the person’s finances. However, some people begin with very little information. You may have to look at the deceased’s tax returns, bills, and bank statements to piece together the details. If they had a financial advisor or accountant, you may also have to talk to them.

Obtaining Information about the Deceased’s Personal Representative and Beneficiaries

If there’s a will, try to locate the person named as the executor as well as the beneficiaries. They will be involved in the process so the earlier you can reach them, the better. If the deceased didn’t leave a will, try to contact the children or spouse if they are not already involved.  Sometimes the named executor is found to be deceased, unwilling to serve or unqualified. If this happens, others will have to apply for the position and the court will appoint someone. Throughout this entire process, the guidance of a probate attorney in San Antonio is essential. The more complex the case, the longer it will take and the more stressful it can be. Having an experienced attorney by your side will help to relieve some of this burden.

This image shows a mourner holding white flowers next to a coffin.
Unfortunately, funerals can be complicated and expensive. At Eddington Worley, we are here for you should you need assistance.

Why Do Probate Disputes Occur?

What happens next will depend largely on how the situation stands after these steps. Creditors and beneficiaries usually have to be notified. One of the things that may eventually arise is a dispute among the beneficiaries and heirs. There may be disagreement over whether the executor is managing the estate within the law. 

Some may argue that they are not properly investing the property or even that they are stealing estate funds. It may also be alleged that the executor is not treating the beneficiaries fairly. If the executor is also a beneficiary, they may try to keep the property for himself. He may also neglect to disclose all the details about the estate. Wherever you fit into such a scenario, it is best to get legal advice. Don’t react out of emotion or grief. Instead, try to understand your rights and obligations under the law. A San Antonio probate lawyer at Eddington & Worley is ready to assist you regardless of the circumstances.

Request a Consultation with the Attorneys at Eddington & Worley Today!

When you lose a loved one, there’ a lot to deal with. Things get even more difficult when it’s time to settle their estate. If you need legal advice, you should contact a San Antonio probate lawyer with Eddington & Worley today. While we have provided general information here, your case will no doubt have its nuances. Your rights and responsibilities may also be different depending on your relationship to the deceased and their estate. 

You may have just found out you’ve been named the executor of someone’s will. Chances are you don’t know exactly what that means or whether you have to agree to it. You may even have been blindsided by a will which you have reason to believe is invalid. It is impossible to mention all the issues which can arise when a loved one dies. However, at Eddington & Worley, our San Antonio family lawyers we have all the skills and experience to help you navigate whatever life throws at you. We will treat your case with the dignity and sensitivity it deserves. Whether you’re an executor, beneficiary, legal heir or trustee, we can represent your interests. Call us as soon as possible for an initial consultation so we can advise you of your options.