To Have a Will or Not Have a Will – That is the Question?

Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, immigration law, will & estates, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.

Are you wondering what “probate” is? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I have many clients that come to me with a deer in the headlights look when it comes to talking about probate and estate matters. So, what is probate? Probate is simply the process of proving a will in court as a valid and legally enforceable document. When there are no disputes regarding the validity of the will and the will is an uncontested original, Texas has one of the most straightforward and inexpensive probate processes in the United States.

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First, let’s break down the distinction between testate v. intestate in the world of probate. All you have to remember is testate means there is a will and intestate means there is no will.

Scenario 1 – The Probate Process When there is a Will (testate):

In most instances, a will can only be probated within 4 years of the date of the decedent’s death (decedent = deceased person). Usually, the named executor in the will hires an attorney to perform the probate. The attorney files an application for probate and files the original will with the court. A hearing is then set in which the will is proven to be valid before the court. Subsequently, the court will issue Letters of Testamentary that evidence the executor’s authority to act on behalf of the estate.

Scenario 2 – The Probate Process When there is No Will (intestate):

Unfortunately, there are times when an individual has died without a will in Texas (intestate). As you may deduce, the probate of these types of estates are more complicated than estates where the decedent has left a will.
When a person dies without a will in Texas, the law dictates how that person’s assets are to be distributed. The Texas Estates Code will specify the heirs that will inherit the person’s property and in what order. Several kinds of assets will require probate to be done in court so that assets can be properly distributed to the heirs.

In the intestate scenario, oftentimes, an estate can only be opened within 4 years of the date of the decedent’s death. A relative of the decedent who stands to inherit usually hires an attorney to perform the probate. The attorney files an Application for Letters of Administration with the court and the court appoints an attorney ad litem to investigate and determine who the decedent’s heirs are. Thereafter, a hearing is set where the court determines who the appropriate heirs are. Finally, the court will issue Letters of Administration that evidence the administrator’s authority to act on behalf of the estate.

Now that you know the differences between dying testate versus intestate, you can see the benefits of adequately preparing your estate. Leaving behind a will not only ensures that your final wishes are carried out, but also simplifies the process for your loved ones, making an emotionally difficult time, a bit easier on them.

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I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”

As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!

Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?