After the loss of a loved one, you will likely have to go through a legal process called probate to administer his or her estate. It can be overwhelming and intimidating, as you may not initially know who to contact, what's required of you, or how the process works in general. There are also a lot of myths about Brazos County probate that can complicate matters further. I've addressed some of the most common misconceptions I hear as a College Station estate lawyer so that you can focus your time and energy on the probate tasks that really matter.
If There's No Will, The State Will Seize the Assets
It's an excellent idea for everyone to create a will before they die. However, the state can't take everything a person owns without a will. Instead, intestate succession could apply depending on state laws.
Intestate succession typically involves passing down the deceased's assets to the next of kin in order of succession, such as:
- Other dependents or relatives
The only time the state could end up with the deceased's assets is if they don't have a will and zero next of kin.
Probate Always Takes Years or Decades
Probate can be lengthy, but it doesn't typically take years to complete. If there are no disputes within the family about the distribution of assets and the assets in question are relatively straightforward, probating the estate could take as little as a few months.
However, certain circumstances could delay the process. For example, a beneficiary can extend the legal proceedings by contesting the will. Contesting a will can involve a beneficiary taking another to court because they believe they should have received a certain asset.
Probate Expenses Will Exceed Estate Funds
After going through probate, many people fear there won't be anything left from the estate. You might think you'll have to use all the assets from the estate to pay for the probate costs and fees. Although probate can be an expensive process, the expenses associated with it aren't as much as you may believe.
If you decide to hire an attorney, you'll have to pay their fees and costs. However, state law regulates how much an attorney can charge for probating a person's estate. Typically, attorney's fees are a small percentage of the total value of the assets left by the deceased.
The Oldest Child Will Be Appointed as The Administrator
There's no hard and fast rule that a judge has to appoint the oldest child as an estate administrator in the absence of a will. Really, any interested party can apply, and a judge will select the candidate they believe is best suited for the position. Generally speaking, however, most state laws forbid individuals under age 18 or convicted felons to serve as the executor of someone else's estate.
If you have additional questions about the process of probate in Brazos County, contact our law office at 979-703-7014 to speak to a College Station estate lawyer. We are here to provide you with the information and guidance you need to close out your loved one's estate in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible.