We frequently get asked “Do I need a probate attorney?” to help with either the administration of an estate or the setting up of a last will and testament.
In Texas, a probate attorney can be invaluable in setting up wills and trusts along with settling an estate.
While a single person can appear in court to represent themselves, the courts will not allow them to represent another person or entity.
Only a licensed attorney may represent a third person or entity in a judicial proceeding in the State of Texas.
So, in most probate, an individual applicant is not just representing just themselves. They are attempting to represent another person/persons such as beneficiaries, heirs, or the estate itself. Things can get more complicated if guardianship of minors or incapacitated persons is involved.
These instances include when an individual is applying for:
- Letters testamentary,
- Letters of administration,
- Determinations of heirship,
- And guardianship of the person or estate,
a lot of legal terms and documents all of which may require the services of an experienced probate attorney.
Unless the applicant appearing in court is a licensed attorney, filing an application to probate a will without an attorney constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. Texas courts will not allow that to happen. Tex. Gov. Code Ann. § 81.102 (a) (Vernon 1988)
You do not need to be a lawyer to serve as executor or administrator of an estate; BUT, you must retain legal counsel as you will be representing the third-party interests of the ward, beneficiaries, or creditors.
Assets of an Estate
When any person dies, their assets, debts, and property make up their estate.
The process of distributing the assets of an estate to the beneficiaries named in the will or, if there is no will, to the heirs designated by law, is known as estate administration.
Probate is the legal process through which the court supervises the estate administration.
A Probate Attorney can be invaluable in settling an estate.
- Texas probate laws can be complicated: Probate laws vary by state, and the laws here in Texas can be complex. An experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the laws and ensure that the estate is administered correctly.
- The Texas probate process can be time-consuming. It can take months or even years to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate. A probate attorney can help expedite the process by handling paperwork, court appearances, and other administrative tasks.
- Probate can be expensive: The cost of probate in Texas can be significant, and fees can quickly add up. A probate attorney can help you minimize costs by ensuring that the estate is administered efficiently and effectively.
- Legal disputes can arise: In some cases, legal disputes can (and do) arise during probate. These disputes include challenges to the will or disagreements among beneficiaries and family members. A probate attorney can help you navigate these disputes and ensure that the estate is settled fairly.
Overall, hiring a probate attorney in Texas can help ensure that the estate administration process goes smoothly and that the wishes of the deceased are carried out properly.
The experienced probate attorneys of Blizzard and Zimmerman are here to help with compassionate representation for you and your loved ones through the probate process. Call today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our probate attorneys.