Admission of Wills for Probate in Houston
Serving Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Montgomery Counties
When a family member passes away, surviving relatives face the daunting task of concluding their financial and legal affairs. At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our estate administration and probate attorneys offer no-surprise, fixed fees for most simple probate cases that involve self-proving and uncontested wills – to help you speed along the successful administration of your loved one’s estate.
Discuss a probate matter or will dispute with a lawyer from Hendershot Cowart P.C. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to request an initial consultation.
We know this is a difficult time, and likely the first time you have dealt with the probate process, but it’s not ours. Our seasoned attorneys will file the appropriate documentation, make requisite court appearances, and assist with completing the Texas probate process from start to finish – for an affordable flat rate of $3,500 for qualifying estates (see details below). You’ll know exactly what the cost of our legal services will be up front – relieving some of the confusion and anxiety over settling your loved one’s estate.
Our flat-fee arrangement covers the following professional probate services:
- Application to Probate Will and Request for Independent Administration
- Posting and service of citation
- Filing proposed orders, proof of death, and the executor’s oath
- Drafting and publishing notice to creditors in the Daily Court Review
- Serving notice to beneficiaries or obtaining and filing waivers of notice
- Filing Affidavit in Lieu of Inventory, Appraisement, and List of Claims
- 10 copies of Letters Testamentary
Including the following court fees and out-of-pocket costs (all rates current for Harris County as of October 2021):
- Court filing fees: $308
- Citation and posting: $75
- Notice to Creditors: $64
- Letters Testamentary ($2 each x 10): $20
Be aware that many websites advertising flat-rate probate services do not include court fees and other out-of-pocket costs in their fees. As with any agreement, make sure you read the fine print to avoid unexpected surprises.
What Type of Wills Qualify for Flat-Rate Probate Services?
If your loved one’s Last Will and Testament is uncontested and self-proving (meaning the will contains a properly executed self-proving affidavit), and there are no debts of the estate other than debts secured by real estate (such as a mortgage on the home), our attorneys can handle the probate process for you at a simple, fixed fee of $3,500 – including court fees.
We invite you to contact our firm to discuss our flat-rate will and probate services in a confidential consultation. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online.
Please note that the flat-fee rate is subject to estate remaining uncontested during case and based on information provided by the client upon engagement. If the case becomes contested at any time or if additional information is discovered during the case that requires additional effort, we reserve the right to apply our standard hourly rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an attorney to probate a will in Texas? In Texas, if you are the executor or administrator of an estate, you are required to be represented by a licensed lawyer. This is because the executor not only represents her or his interests but also those of the heirs and creditors. While Texas does allow individuals to represent themselves in court (as "pro se" or self-help litigants), the state requires that a licensed attorney represent all third-party interests. If a non-attorney represented an estate before the courts, this would be considered the unauthorized practice of law.
What is an uncontested, self-proving will? A “self-proving will” contains a properly executed, self-proving affidavit, or sworn statement. The affidavit must be signed by witnesses and the person making the will attesting to the validity of the will.
My father’s will includes a house with a mortgage. Does the estate qualify for your flat-rate probate services? Yes, an estate that includes a loan secured by real estate – such as a mortgage on a house – is eligible for our flat-fee probate package.
How long does the probate process take? In relatively straightforward cases – such as those covered by our flat fee – the probate process takes around six months to a year to complete. However, if the estate is complex or the will is contested, it can take longer.
Other services our attorneys can assist with include:
- Probate litigation involving an executor or trustee
- Contested wills
- Contested trusts
- Guardianship proceedings
How to Probate a Will in Texas
Probate is a process by which the courts legally recognize a deceased person's (the decedent) death, settle their outstanding debts, and distribute remaining assets to their heirs. The process is designed to facilitate the transfer of a deceased person's estate, and when necessary, to protect the interests of both beneficiaries and creditors in the decedent's estate. In Texas, probate is handled in Texas’ Probate Courts.
We know this is a difficult time, and likely the first time you have dealt with the probate process, but it’s not ours. Our seasoned attorneys will file the appropriate documentation, make court appearances, and assist with all aspects of the will probate process.
Here are the general steps to probate a will in Texas:
- File the Will and Apply for Probate. When someone dies with an established will in place, the will must be filed with the proper court along with a written application to admit the will to probate and be appointed executor of the estate.
- The Probate Hearing. In Texas, a hearing takes place before a probate judge. During this hearing, the judge will recognize the decedent's death, confirm that the individual applying to be administrator/executor is fit to serve, and verify that the decedent died with a valid will.
- Inventory, Appraisement, and List of Claims. It is the executor's responsibility to inventory and appraise the deceased person's estate within 90 days of the hearing. Executor responsibilities also include notifying beneficiaries of the will, posting a notice to creditors, discharging debts, filing the decedent’s final federal tax return, and otherwise settling the estate. A probate attorney can assist with many of these duties.
- Resolving Disputes. The estate cannot be settled until all disputes are settled – from disagreements over the valuation of assets, contesting a creditor’s claims to an estate, or contesting the will. These disputes can be addressed before a probate judge but are more often settled through mediation. A probate attorney can represent your interests in any disputes.
- Distribution of the Estate. Once all the debts and any disputes are resolved, remaining assets are then distributed to beneficiaries.
Read our complete Step-by-Step Guide on the Texas Probate Process.
What Happens If the Will Is Disputed? We Handle High-Stakes Probate Litigation, Too
The probate law attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. specialize in high-stakes will contests, as well as disputes arising out of a trustee’s or executor’s fiduciary duties. We have been advocating on behalf of individual and family clients for decades.
No one actively seeks a legal battle, but when it comes to defending or protecting the legacy of a loved one, it may be necessary to take legal action. If you find yourself embroiled in an unwelcome dispute over a high-net-worth estate – either before or after a will is admitted for probate – our litigation team is ready to step in.
Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to arrange a consultation with an experienced probate litigation attorney at our firm today.
Affordable Fixed Fees, So You Know What to Expect
From filing a will for probate to distributing assets and discharging debts, the probate process can be an unfamiliar and daunting experience for many. Let the experienced Houston probate attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. give you the step-by-step guidance you need to navigate the process as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Our legal team has extensive experience with Texas probate cases and is available to help you learn more about the process, your rights in the event of a dispute, and how to admit a will for probate. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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