I was consulted on an estate question today from a family in Forney, Texas. I haven’t previously represented the family.
Their Mom passed away about two years ago and her Probate was never complete. After she died, the family assumed that probate wasn’t necessary or required because Dad has no plans to sell the family assets, their house or other real estate or stock, and he already had access to their bank accounts.
The problem is though that Mom had two heirs that have recently passed away. These two heirs each have several heirs, a couple of which are estranged, a couple of which are real “pieces of work” and one of which that is in jail. Now, completing Mom's probate might be difficult. To top it off, the successor heirs are jealous and will likely make the proceeding difficult for the sake of being difficult. All of their expected shenanigans could have been totally avoided if the family had elected to go through the probate shortly after Mom died.
Some Texas families often mistakenly believe that if they ignore the necessity to complete a probate long enough, then the need will just go away. But that is a false assumption. The truth is the longer a family waits to complete a probate, the harder it will be.
I wish that the family had been clients of mine before they decided to use an attorney that recommended that a Will serve as the centerpiece of their estate plans. If they had been clients of mine, I might have been able to show them the benefits of a revocable living trust and how it could have avoided the need for probate altogether. Then their delay in completing the probate process wouldn’t have mattered since a trust would likely have removed the need for probate altogether.
If you have an interest in completing a probate so that property or investments can be properly re-titled after the death of a family member, or if you would like to avoid the need for probate altogether, give us a call and we can have a conversation about how easy it can be. Remember, the real goal should be to make it easy on everyone. No Lawyers, No Judges, No Courtrooms.