Essentials of Probate Success Dallas Fort Worth, Texas by David Pannell Broker
Probate is the court-supervised process of administering a decedent’s estate to distribute the net proceeds of the estate to the rightful heirs.
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The Location of the Court
The particular type of court overseeing the probate process will vary by state: it may be a dedicated probate court, superior court, circuit court, general county court, or something else. Regardless, real property must be probated in the state where it is physically located, which may require an estate to pass through probate in multiple states.
Probate court costs are typically nominal – usually a few hundred dollars. The more significant expenses involve paying thousands of dollars to attorneys, appraisers, accountants, and other professionals (the average estate spends over $12,000 on attorneys and accountants).
If probate is required, one clear benefit of an executor is that they will be following the law. But, even if probate isn’t legally required, the process can shield an executor from disgruntled heirs and get the executor formal documents known as “Letters,” which make it easier for an executor to prove their authority to third parties, such as banks and investment firms.
An Alternative to Probate: the Affidavit
If probate is not required, many states allow an executor to claim estate assets using a simple sworn statement (affidavit) and that they’ll be taking possession of the asset. In some instances, a copy of the death certificate will also need to be provided.
If the estate owner dies intestate (without a will), the executor will likely need to use an Affidavit of Heirship, which states the location and date of the decedent’s death, as well as the name and address of all heirs specified by statute.
4 Types of Probate
The state for which you’ve been appointed executor may not need to go through probate, but if it does, there are four types:
- Summary – the shortest and easiest form of probate, it’s usually applicable for small, simple estates.
- Informal – the most common type of probate, it requires that there are no disputes that the court will need to resolve.
- Formal – lengthier and more expensive, formal probate can resolve disputes, usually with the assistance of an attorney.
- Supervised – the rarest type of probate, it’s used when the court finds that an heir needs protection, such as a minor child or someone deemed incompetent in some manner.
The type of probate an estate will require, if probate is in fact even needed, is determined at the state and county level; there are no federal probate requirements.
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Are the Services of an Attorney Required?
In Texas, if a small estate settlement process isn’t used, the law requires that an attorney represent the executor if there are heirs other than the executor or creditors involved.
Though a lawyer may be involved with the clearing of an estate, the executor will still have many duties to perform, such as tracking expenses, paying bills, etc.
The Elements of the Probate Process
Though probate details can vary by state or county, there are many common elements of the probate process regardless of location:
- Executor appointment: the first step in the probate process, it requires filing documents with the court, notifying potentially interested parties, and obtaining a probate bond.
- Estate inventory: the executor must provide the court with an official inventory of the estate’s assets and debts. This inventory is often required along with the probate application.
- Creditor notification: many states require that creditors be notified and advised on how to submit claims.
- Family entitlements: a surviving spouse and other dependents often have rights to the estate superseding the terms of the will or legitimate claims from creditors. Some states require the executor to inform the spouse of those rights and wait a certain amount of time to let the spouse decide whether to file any claims.
- Debt resolution: once an executor understands the estate’s overall finances, they must attempt to resolve all debts.
- Tax payments and discharge of personal liability: the executor is responsible for filing a tax return for the decedent’s final year of life, and also for the estate.
- Asset distribution: after all debts have been resolved and any taxes due have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the rightful heirs.
- Final accounting and probate closing: the probate process usually concludes with the submission and court approval of two documents: the Final Accounting Statement and the Probate Closing Statement.
Questions Concerning Probate and Real Estate?
Serving as an executor can be all-consuming. Certain aspects of settling an estate require significant time and effort, like handling an estate’s real estate holdings.
EstateExec is an online service that helps estate executors perform their duties. Every year, more than 3M people die in the US and Canada, and by law their estates must be settled, with this responsibility often falling to a family member. Although the primary user of EstateExec is the estate executor, it's also common for the original estate owner to purchase a license in advance of his or her death, to make the executor's job easier.
If you have questions concerning probate and real estate in Tarrant, Parker, Wise, Collin, Denton, or Dallas County, contact David Pannell and Cities Real Estate. David has extensive experience helping families with their real estate needs before, during, and after the probate process.
David has been an agent/realtor since 2005. He has served as a United States Marines, City of Arlington police officer, and is a dedicated family man. You can trust him to put your interests first in any and all situations.
Call David today at (817) 797-9047 for help with your real estate and probate needs. You will be treated respectfully, and your requirements will be met efficiently and confidentially.
NTREIS data last updated December 2, 2023.
Why Hire David Pannell & Cities Real Estate?
Experience the ease and peace of mind that comes with our comprehensive probate assistance services for families. Unlike attorneys who focus on legal matters, we specialize in the tasks that truly matter to you. From decluttering houses to connecting executors with reputable estate sell companies, we ensure that no aspect of the probate process is overlooked. We even go the extra mile by helping you donate unwanted personal property and providing valuable recommendations to enhance your property's value. With the current surge in investors aiming to purchase estate properties well below their actual worth, our guidance becomes even more crucial.
Whether buying or selling a home, it is our goal to make this important event a positive and enjoyable experience. We are committed to providing you with personal attention accompanied by courtesy, respect and professionalism.
David Pannell's Team is a top producing real estate team in the Fort Worth Texas. We have served thousands of clients and we are a trusted partner to many local and nonprofit organizations. Our mission is to educate our clients in the home buying and selling process. We focus on detailed systems and aggressive negotiating strategies to get our clients the best results every time.
Our success stories are filled with satisfied clients who have found tremendous value in our services, particularly those dealing with probated estates. By understanding your family's unique goals, we offer tailored options that align with your desires and aspirations.
When you choose us, you're not just getting a service; you're gaining access to a dedicated team and an entire service hub built around streamlining the probate process. We handle the intricate details, allowing you to focus on your busy life without the burden of overwhelming paperwork and logistics.
Let us empower you to take complete control of the probate process. Working hand in hand with our exceptional Probate Services team, you'll experience a faster, smoother journey with significantly less stress. Embrace this major life transition with confidence, knowing that we have your back every step of the way.
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Rely On A Probate Estate Expert
Cities Real Estate agent David Pannell has been helping families with their real estate needs for over fifteen years. David is a former United States Marine and City of Arlington police officer. He is a realtor you can trust to help you find your treasure in Covered Bridge Canyon or sell your home as you begin the next chapter in life. Contact David today at (817) 797-9047.