A Law Firm Built On
The Principles Of Family, Hard Work And Common Sense

An Attorney Offering Professional Yet Caring Representation In Estate Planning And Probate Matters

No one likes to think of a time when they will no longer be around. Unfortunately, we all know that time will come eventually. Because the future is uncertain, it is never too soon to start the estate planning process. You’ve worked hard to build financial wealth and acquire assets, and you should be the one to decide what happens to them when you are gone.

An experienced attorney like Trent can be a huge help in this process. When you contact Branick & Devenzio, in Nederland, you’ll receive skilled guidance through the entire estate planning process. Because of the firm’s commitment to personalized service and attention, you can be sure that Trent will take the time to understand your needs and goals to help you create a plan you can be proud of.

What Is Included In An Estate Plan?

The cornerstone of an estate plan is a last will and testament. A will is a document that describes how you want your assets to be divided when you pass. It also defines how you want your debts to be handled, and you can identify who you want to play a significant role in the handling of your affairs after you are gone.

As you consider an estate plan, you may want to consider the following:

  • A named executor/administrator Whether it is the executor named in a will or an administrator in a probate proceeding without a will, both have the same basic obligations: 1) they must identify and collect the assets of the deceased’s estate, 2) they must pay the debts that the deceased owed at the time of his or her death, and 3) they distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will or the law.
  • A physician’s directive (living will) This document informs your health care professionals about how you feel about life-sustaining measures in the event that you are unable to discuss these issues with your doctor.
  • Powers of attorney These documents are created for medical and general interest. A power of attorney allows someone else to make important decisions for you if you become unable to do so due to mental or physical limitations.
  • The inclusion of beneficiary designations on certain nonprobate assets

Together, these documents can create a comprehensive estate plan.

Why It Is Important To Work With A Probate Attorney

Generally speaking, probate is the legal process by which the estate of a deceased is administered, which includes the collection of assets, the payment of debts and the distribution of the remaining assets. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, settling the final affairs of their estate can feel overwhelming. Trent will help you attend to all aspects of the probate process, giving you peace of mind and saving you time and frustration.

Answers To Common Questions About Wills And Probate

Many clients coming to Branick & Devenzio ask similar questions about estate planning, including those listed below. If you have questions about how this area of law works in Texas, the answers below likely will be of some help.

What if I die without a will?

The Texas Probate Code provides for the distribution of your assets if you pass without a will. Your assets will be divided between your spouse and children. If you do not have a spouse or surviving children, then the estate will pass to your parents, brothers and sisters, etc.

Can I pick who will probate my estate?

Yes, one of the roles that you can define in your will is the person who will be responsible for gathering your assets, paying your debts and distributing the remainder of your assets to the people you name in your will.

Where should I keep my original will?

You should keep your will in a place that is secure from fire and flood such as a safe deposit box or a strong box at home. Wherever you decide to keep your will, you should let your family know where the original document is stored. If you keep the document in your safe-deposit box, be sure that your family has access to the box.

Should I have a will?

Yes. In addition to providing for the distribution of your assets, a will allows you to identify the person who you want to probate your estate; you can identify a trustee who will be responsible for the gifts of an heir who is too young to manage their own money; and you can identify the person who you would like to serve as guardian of your minor children.

Is there a deadline to probate a will?

Yes, a will needs to be probated no more than four years after the deceased has passed away. If a will is not probated within four years, the law treats the deceased as if they died without a will and their assets will be distributed in accordance with the Texas Probate Code. Note that a will may be offered as a muniment of title after the four-year deadline; however, this proceeding does not offer the same benefits of full probate.

Is a handwritten will legal?

A handwritten will may be valid if it is written completely in the handwriting of the deceased. Also, the document must be signed by the deceased.

Who is responsible for the debts of someone who has died?

Creditors that exist when someone dies can only assert their interest against the assets owned by the deceased at the time of his or her death. Family members are not liable for the debts of the decedent. If the estate is not large enough to cover the outstanding debts, the unpaid debts are canceled by the creditor.

Get Your Own Estate And Probate Questions Answered By A Knowledgeable Attorney

When you contact Branick & Devenzio, you can get answers to your estate law questions and learn more about how Trent can help you and your family. To arrange an initial consultation, call the firm’s Nederland office at 409-403-1370, or reach out online.