HOW HARD SHOULD I LOOK FOR A WILL?
Sometimes people can underestimate the importance of a Will. Many people are stressed about what to do when they can't find a Will. We see clients visit our offices who have done a preliminary search for their parent's Will, turned up empty, and figured it's not that big of a deal because:
- They didn't own "too much property"
- There aren't many beneficiaries
- He/She "knows" their wishes, etc.
Though all of these things may be true, they are virtually powerless when it comes to managing estate assets after death. There are a set of detailed laws that govern how to handle property in an estate after death. These laws are called Probate. There are different types of probate administration - some are more complex than others.
A big part of the determination as to which type of probate process is most appropriate for your case depends on whether there is a properly executed Will or not. If there is any chance your parent(s) left a Will behind, our advice is to do everything you can to search for it thoroughly. It could mean the difference between a simple, cost-effective procedure vs. a complex, expensive, time consuming procedure.
PROBATE WITHOUT A WILL
More about what to do when you can't find a Will
If there could be a properly executed Will avaialabe, we encourage you to find it! Here are some places to look that you might not have thought of:
- An "important papers" section of the house - usually with social security cards, passports, and birth certificates
- In a fire-proof safety box hidden at home or in the garage
- At a bank-secured safety deposit box. If you don't have access to this, call us at (210) 876-4311. We can help you gain access.
- Filed or scanned at the County Courthouse.
- With a friend or family member
- The deceased's lawyer
If you still cannot find the Will or any other estate planning documents, that's ok - your case is not hopeless. There are several other Probate procedures that allow you to handle your loved one's property without a Will.
This is a more complicated procedure and it almost always requires the help of an experienced San Antonio Probate attorney. Since this is a more advanced area of probate law, make sure to consult with attorneys who have a large amount of dependent administration experience.
Worried about what to do when you can't find the Will?
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2 TYPES OF PROBATE ADMINISTRATION
There are two main types of Probate Administration: Independent Administration and Dependent Administration. An Independent administration is the more simple, streamlined process, but it's only available to estates with properly executed Wills.
OTHER "NO WILL" OPTIONS
SMALL ESTATE ADMINISTRATION:
A small estate affidavit is another option for families who need to process their loved one's property, but who cannot find a valid Will. Texas lawmakers created this as a more simple option for people who qualified. Your estate's ability to qualify for a Small Estate Affidavit relies on its ability to meet specific requirements found in the Texas probate code. The total asset value must be under a certain threshold, the debt must be less than the asset value, and there cannot be an extraordinary amount of property to disburse besides the deceased's home. An experienced Probate attorney can help you understand whether this is a good option for you.
AFFIDAVIT OF HEIRSHIP:
An Affidavit of Heirship is a good option for someone who might not qualify for an independent administration (because there is no will) or a small estate affidavit (because they fail to meet all of the requirements.) This procedure involves verifying all beneficiaries involved in the probate process. It's significantly less involved than a dependent administration. An experienced San Antonio probate attorney can help you decide whether this is a good option for your case.
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