What Is the Difference Between Probate and Estate Administration?
Probate and estate administration are two parts of the same process. If the deceased had a will, "probate” generally refers to the act of going to court and proving the will is valid. In cases where the person did not have a will, “probate” generally refers to going to court to prove the identity of the decedent’s surviving heirs at law and how much each of them is entitled to inherit. In both types of cases, probate includes the appointment of either an executor or administrator for the estate.
Estate administration generally refers to the actions the executor or administrator takes to settle the decedent’s estate after they are appointed by the court. This can include identifying creditors, paying debts, selling estate property, filing tax returns, forming trusts, distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries, and a wide range of other tasks.
A qualified Texas probate lawyer can help with both probating the estate in court and assisting you with the duties of estate administration.
What Does a Probate Attorney Do?
A probate attorney focuses their practice on estate administration and has experience with the probate process. A probate lawyer can help you:
- Review your loved one’s last will and testament
- Complete and file the necessary paperwork with the court
- Contact creditors and beneficiaries
- Get through hearings and court appearances
- Ease the duties of estate administration
- Handle contested wills and other disputes
You cannot settle the estate until all estate administration duties have been executed and any disputes resolved. The probate attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. can provide effective, low-stress solutions at every phase of the probate process, so you can focus on mourning your loss and upholding your family’s legacy.
There is a difference between probate law and estate planning, which involves working with living clients to protect and preserve their legacy for the next generation. While some firms offer both estate planning and estate administration or probate services, the two practices are different. Our Houston probate attorneys focus specifically on helping clients through the probate process and estate administration.
Probate Attorneys & Guardianship
In Texas, the guardianship process is also overseen by the Probate Court making a probate attorney uniquely qualified to help you navigate guardianship or evaluate guardianship alternatives.
A probate attorney with guardianship experience like ours can:
- Guide you through the legal process of establishing and overseeing a guardianship
- Help with issues that arise during the guardianship, such as disputes over the ward's care or finances
- Assist in the termination of a guardianship
- Counsel you on less restrictive alternatives to guardianship such as powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, or a special needs trust. Another option to guardianship is supported decision-making arrangement, which enables an adult with a disability or other impairment that affects their ability to make certain decisions to enter a beneficial legal agreement with their chosen supporter.
- Help you defend against challenges to terminate guardianships or dissolve a special needs trust or other guardianship alternative
Because establishing guardianship is a complex legal process, and because awarding control of person’s rights to another is a major decision, legal representation when seeking guardianship is crucial.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Probate?
Yes. In Texas, the executor of an estate is required to be represented by a licensed lawyer. Although state and federal law gives you the right to represent yourself in most cases, this right does not exist in probate cases because you are representing someone else’s estate – and the interests of the decedent’s heirs and creditors.
Nevertheless, you can choose how involved you want your probate attorney to be with your case. Our team is dedicated to representing you in probate court and helping you as much or as little as you wish.
Full-service probate firms like Hendershot Cowart P.C. are especially helpful when you are dealing with a large, complex estate or potential conflicts among beneficiaries, creditors, or other interested parties. We can advise you of your rights and help guide the estate administration to an efficient and peaceful conclusion.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Hendershot Cowart P.C. is based in Houston, Texas and helps residents of Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties with probate and estate administration matters. We believe in loyalty to our clients, and we strive to exceed your expectations.
If you are facing the distribution of an estate or named as an executor or administrator for an estate, speak to a Houston probate attorney today. Call us at (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.