The attorneys at McReynolds & Tye, P.C. assist clients in San Antonio and throughout South Texas in the probate administration of estates, and the avoidance of probate through estate planning. Probate is the court-supervised process of transferring a person’s estate from the decedent to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s last will and testament, or if the decedent died intestate, meaning without a will, to the decedent’s heirs as determined by law. Probate includes identifying the assets of the estate, paying any taxes or debts owed by the estate, and distributing property and assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.
We provide the legal services necessary for the following probate procedures:
Probate of Last Will and Testament
- Probate of Will as a Muniment of Title – Ownership of assets is transferred to beneficiaries named in the last will and testament without the appointment of an executor, and no inventory is filed. This method is only available if there are no debts.
- Independent Administration – An independent executor is appointed, an inventory is filed, and then debts are paid and assets transferred to beneficiaries without further supervision of the Probate Court. This is the most commonly used probate method in Texas.
- Dependent Administration – An administrator is appointed, inventory is filed, and then debts are paid and assets transferred to beneficiaries after approval is obtained from the Probate Court. This method is usually avoided due to the higher costs, unless court supervision is desirable to resolve issues related to beneficiaries or creditors.
Intestate Procedures (No Last Will and Testament)
In the event the person dies without a valid will to be probated, the court will distribute the estate to the decedent’s heirs in accordance with the laws of intestate succession.
- Heirship Affidavit – summarizes family history and establishes the identity of a person’s legal heirs. It is filed in the real property records of the county in which real property owned by the decedent is located. This procedure is most useful to transfer ownership of real estate when there are no debts.
- Small Estate Affidavit – a type of Heirship Affidavit that is filed with the Probate Court and requires the approval of the Probate Judge. No administrator is appointed. This method is most efficient to transfer assets of an estate when the total value of assets is $50,000 or less, plus the homestead.
- Proceeding for Declaration of Heirship Without Administration – used to establish the identity of a person’s legal heirs. Ownership of assets is transferred to beneficiaries without the appointment of an administrator, and no inventory is filed. May be used only if the estate has no debts. This procedure is most efficient to transfer assets of an estate when the total value of assets exceeds $50,000.
- Dependent Administration – In this proceeding in the Probate Court, an administrator is appointed, inventory is filed, and then debts are paid and assets transferred to beneficiaries after approval is obtained from Probate Court. This method is usually avoided due to the higher costs, unless court supervision is desirable to resolve issues related to beneficiaries or creditors.
We represent clients in guardianship proceedings. For minors or incapacitated persons, the Probate Court will appoint a guardian of the person (to manage personal and medical needs) and/or a guardian of the estate (to manage financial affairs). Guardianships require ongoing supervision by the Probate Court.
There are many other ways we can assist clients in the probate process, including the preparation of Federal Estate Tax Returns (IRS Form 706) and Texas Inheritance Tax Returns (Form 17-106). We also aid clients in income tax planning for estates and trusts and in the administration of revocable management trusts (living trusts).
For assistance with probate, trust and estate administration, contact McReynolds & Tye, P.C.