Spring, TX estate planning & probate attorney Christine Butts explains what probate is and whether or not it should be avoided.
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So in Texas and elsewhere probate in its simplest form is simply changing the title of assets from a deceased person to the deceased person’s beneficiaries or heirs. And so, that’s a really, you know simple definition for probate but a lot of people are nervous about probate. A lot of my clients come in and one of the first things that they ask is how do I avoid probate? Maybe they’ve had a bad experience with their own family. Maybe they’ve come from the northwest or maybe they’ve come from the East Coast where probate can be a little bit more complicated and more expensive. But Texas is unique because we have our own probate code, number one.
A lot of states in the union subscribe to the uniform probate code and Texas does not. What is more, we have independent administration. Other states may have something called informal administration, which is comparable to independent administration but independent administration in Texas means that a probate is administered independent of court supervision. And independent administration represent the far majority of administrations in Texas. They are less expensive, they are less complex, and less time consuming. So independent administration is much more efficient than a dependent administration where the court is supervising every move that the fiduciary, the executor, or the administrator makes.
And so, should probate be avoided? Possibly there are situations where it should be avoided, but for the most part, we plan using wills. I would say that the majority of the estate plans that I do personally I recommend wills to my clients because I’m not concerned about that client having to go through the probate process. But there are reasons to avoid probate and I’ll talk about that.