Houston & Fort Worth Probate Administration & Litigation Lawyers
Backed by Two Decades of Texas Probate Experience
In Texas, as in other states, when an individual passes away, his or her estate commonly must go through the Texas probate process. This is done to transfer the ownership of the person’s property and other assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. The process also involves the collection of any debts owed by the estate and payment to its creditors. This process has many steps, the first of which is to file the probate application with the court. Should the will or other aspects of the estate be contested, it can lead to litigation which will require the services of an attorney who understands and has experience in the probate litigation process in court.
Keith and his team were fantastic. We had heard horror stories of the probate process but our experience was fast and ...- Thomas M.
He researched my problem, consulted another expert just for a second opinion, and responded to me with the answers I needed. He is a SUPER PERSON.- Kathie
He helped my family navigate a unique probate and trust process right at the end of the year.- Previous Client
Keith is one of the finest and technically proficient lawyers I have ever met.- Jennifer
Keith is very professional and was able to settle my family dispute.- Susan
Keith would be the one attorney I hope I never set on the opposite side of the table against.- Bruce
Mr. Morris represented me in a complicated and nasty probate matter. I am a paralegal and must say that Mr. Morris is in the top .5 of the 1% of excellent lawyers.- Jennifer L.
Keith was easy to reach and had a lot of knowledge about estate planning. He helped me and my family with our wills and helped set up trusts for my kids.- Oda
Get the Assistance You Need
If you have a family member who has passed away and need legal guidance in the probate administration or litigation of the estate, we recommend that you turn to attorneys Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly. We have concentrated a large portion of our practice in this field; we have decades worth of experience routinely handling probate administration matters in and around the Houston and Fort Worth areas. We have also handled many probate litigation cases in which disputes have arisen between interested parties to an estate that needed to be brought before a probate judge to be resolved.
Probate Administration in Texas
Starting the probate process can be a simple step but handling all of the steps involved can be complex. It pays to have a knowledgeable probate attorney in your corner to give you the advice and assistance you need to facilitate and expedite the process. Our attorneys can educate you on what will be required and what it takes to adhere to the Texas Probate Code.
The probate process can include but is not limited to:
- Submitting the will to the court so that it can be verified
- Attending hearings, such as providing proof that validates your family member’s death
- Identifying any creditors, giving them notice of the death, and contacting them
- Notifying all estate beneficiaries
- Identifying and getting appraisals for the property and assets
- Paying any taxes or other debts owed by the estate
- Distributing assets and property to the heirs and beneficiaries
In sum, the probate process is the way in which the court recognizes the death of the person who owned the estate and it authorizes another to handle its administration. Once the initial filing occurs to the court, it is followed by a court hearing on the probate application approximately two weeks later. During the two week lag, a notice is posted by the county clerk informing the public of the probate application. Absent any protect, the probate proceedings will ensue in which the will is verified and the estate is administered.
How to Probate a Will in Texas
There are 8 steps to the probate process in Texas, they include:
Step 1: Filing
An application for probate must be filed with the proper Texas probate court in the county where the decedent resided.
Step 2: Posting
After the probate application is filed, there will be approximately a two week waiting period before a hearing is held for the application. During this time, the county clerk will post a notice at the courthouse to notify anyone who may contest the will or administration of the estate.
Step 3: Will Validation
After the waiting period, a Texas probate judge will verify that the decedent had a valid will or that there was no will, and finally appoint an administrator or verify the person named as executor.
Step 4: Cataloging Assets
After an executor or administrator is named to the estate, that person must catalog and report to the county clerk all the assets held by the estate within 90 days after appointment.
Step 5: Beneficiaries Identified
If the decedent had a valid will, the executor will notify beneficiaries of the estate. If no was filed, the probate court in Texas must determine heirship.
Step 6 Notifying Creditors
Decedents usually leave behind debts. These must be resolved out of their estate. Creditors are notified of the decedent’s death by the estate’s executor and given the opportunity to file claims against the estate.
Step 7: Resolving Disputes
The estate cannot be finalized if family members or other potential beneficiaries are contesting a will in Texas or if they file related grievances. These disputes must be heard by a probate court judge. In the state of Texas, contesting a will must be done within two years after the original probate.
Step 8: Distributing Assets
After the debts are resolved and disputes cleared up, remaining assets are then distributed to the beneficiaries.
Probate litigation generally revolves around the issues of contesting a will or having an individual die without a will, which is known as “intestacy.” With a valid will in effect, the state is given the control to determine the distribution of the estate property. In these latter cases, Texas rules are strict. In some cases, beneficiaries may not get their fair share of the assets and thus will need a probate litigation lawyer to help them. In the matter of contesting a will, family members can do this by asserting various problems with the will, such as that it was signed improperly, was subject to outside pressure seeking favoritism, was fraudulent, or that the deceased person lack mental capacity. Our firm is prepared to represent you in any will contest to ensure that your legal rights are pursued and upheld.
Dispute Resolved Estate Administration & Division of Assets
Resolved highly contentious ongoing dispute over father’s estate and division of assets between son and daughter.
Dispute Resolved Estate Administration Case
Successfully resolved case between two siblings fighting over cash and personal property of their father.
Hearing Won Evidentiary Hearing
Won lengthy evidentiary hearing to prove client was not in contempt of court to avoid sanction or jail time.
Case Won Guardianship Case
Won trial to exclude wife to serve as guardian of gentleman she married that was at least twice her age.
Six-Figure Settlement Reached Multi-Million Dollar Estate Case
Obtained six-figure settlement after jury was seated for adopted child in multi-million dollar estate case after adoption was disputed.
With over 40+ years of combined legal experience, Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly devoted their efforts to sharpening their skills in probate, trust, and estate planning and litigation.
Keith Morris & Stacy Kelly are proud to be the litigators that takes on the most complicated and difficult cases to court and getting their clients optimal results.
Your first free case evaluation with us can be done through video conference, phone call, or an in-person meeting.
If you call our firm, we will personally pick up the phone and handle your case with the attention it deserves.
Contact the firm today to discuss your case during a free consultation and explore your options.