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Dallas Estate Litigation and Planning Blog

Do I Need a Probate Attorney?

If you are the executor of a will or you’re trying to determine what happens to a family member’s assets after their passing, you may be asking yourself whether you need to hire a lawyer to help you with this process. The probate process can be complex, depending on your situation and the size of the estate, and it’s important to have guidance from an experienced team of attorneys.

The Dallas Estate Litigation Lawyers from Staubus and Randall can support you through the entire process, relieving you of the stress that comes with managing a family member’s estate.

What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

A probate lawyer specializes in estates and legal issues regarding probate. Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s belongings are transferred to family members or other beneficiaries after death. A will that directs how the estate should be distributed makes the process simpler. If the person died without a will, some of the property may need to go through the probate process in order to finalize the estate.

probate attorneyA probate attorney can assist with some of the following tasks related to management and finalization of an estate:

  • Reviewing wills
  • Distributing real estate and other property to beneficiaries
  • Paying taxes
  • Resolving life insurance issues
  • Cataloging assets of the estate
  • Appraising the value of real estate
  • Settling disputes with family members or other beneficiaries
  • Paying debts owed by an estate
  • Filing documents with the probate court

The probate process includes many steps and deadlines, with a lot of paperwork and legal terms to understand. It could be a simple process or it could go on for a very long time.

An experienced probate attorney can help guide you through the probate process and can make sure you don’t miss an important step that could be costly later on. In the case of a dispute, a knowledgeable probate lawyer is essential. In a difficult and emotional time like this, it’s crucial to have an experienced professional who can provide the support you need.

Why Hire Staubus and Randall?

The probate attorneys at Staubus and Randall have been handling the estate needs of Texas clients for decades. Our firm specializes in estate litigation, guardianship, trust planning and trust litigation, and we excel in estate planning and asset protection.

We have many years of probate courtroom experience, and we have a record of success with high-stakes will contests and complex dispute resolution, as well as routine probate matters and estate administration. Staubus and Randall has achieved an AV rating, the highest legal rating from the law firm rating service Martindale-Hubbell.

What Property Doesn’t Need to Go Through Probate?

Property that was owned solely by the decedent or accounts in that person’s name only may need to go through the probate process in order to transfer to family members. Not all assets must go through the probate process, however. You may be able to avoid the probate process for the following types of assets:

  • Retirement accounts, such as an IRA or 401(k), with a named beneficiary
  • Wages or salary owed to the decedent
  • Property in a living trust
  • U.S. savings bonds that are co-owned
  • Distributions from a pension plan
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy
  • Vehicles with a transfer-on-death registration

Your probate attorney can review all of the assets in question and help you determine whether they need to go through probate. The assets may qualify for “small estate” procedures that avoid probate.

Are There Drawbacks to Doing Probate Without a Lawyer?

probate without lawyerIt is possible to probate an estate without hiring a probate lawyer. If the estate is simple, and many of the assets don’t need to go through the probate process, an attorney may not be required. However, debt payment, taxes, and asset distribution are all complicated processes on their own. Hiring an experienced probate lawyer like the ones at Staubus and Randall means that you can be sure that all the details are covered.

If the estate involves a business, commercial real estate, or is particularly valuable, a probate lawyer is a must. The State of Texas requires full court supervision for estates valued at over $75,000, and in most cases, you will need an attorney for this type of case. If there are disputes among family members regarding the estate, you will need a skilled lawyer.

Talk to a Dallas Probate Lawyer Right Away

Managing a will or an estate can be a complicated and arduous ordeal, even more so if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. The Dallas estate litigation attorneys of Staubus and Randall have many years of experience in estate planning and asset protection. We have helped hundreds of satisfied clients with their estate planning and litigation needs and we can make the probate process as stress-free and simple as possible for you too. Call us today at 214-691-3411 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.

The Firm

The attorneys at Staubus and Randall have over 100 years of combined experience in estate planning, probate, and litigation. We have the knowledge and skills to tackle complex legal issues, such as guardianships, will contests, fiduciary litigation, and trust litigation. We can also handle routine matters, such as estate administration, probating wills, heirship determinations, and other probate court matters.

Staubus and Randall received a preeminent AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating possible from a peer-rated legal service. This rating recognizes our hard work, dedication, and the case results we’re able to achieve.

Staubus & Randall Team

What Our Clients Say

"I recently had the occasion to hire Mr. Staubus for a hotly contested Guardianship matter. Mr. Staubus brought a rare combination of effectiveness, reasonableness and understanding of the human element involved. Mr. Staubus handled all things in a calm, highly competent, effective and reasonable way. It could not have been as easy as he made it seem. He's a credit to the Bar."

Jody

"Before retaining the guidance of the Staubus & Randall firm, I was at my wit's end trying to close an uncle's estate as a co-executor. In addition to dealing with difficult heirs, I had other pressing business issues coming up immediately on estate land in the middle of the Eagleford Shale including dealings with pipeline, seismic, oil & gas, and construction companies. The local bank also refused to give me access to information relating to the estate. This quickly became the most stressful and desperate time in my life...and then I found Joseph Legere who truly became my guardian angel. He was able to get all issues resolved efficiently and the estate fully closed. His professionalism, immense legal knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and amazing communication skills took the burdens off of me and quickly got closure. I am forever indebted to this firm for giving me my life back."

Martha

"Without exception, the legal service, professional attitude, prompt communication of your firm and your legal knowledge is second to none. I only wish I had an attorney here in Boston that could hold a candle to your experience and expertise. Working with you has been a pleasure, but even more, has made me believe that there are knowledgeable attorneys that do care about doing a good job. Thank you Keith! You may not truly understand how much of an impact you are having on peoples lives, but for me, you have helped change my life. As I begin making my dreams come true I can't help but remember none of this would be possible without you."

Joann

"Keith Staubus and Julie Blankenship and their team represented me in a jury trial in the probate court where the ownership of the business which I had worked hard to build was at stake. They successfully fought to preserve my business and my professional reputation, working masterfully to gain the support of the jury. I would not hesitate to hire them again in any bet-the-company litigation.”

Karen

"I have required legal representation twice in my life in two separate will contests. Both times I sought assistance from Keith Staubus and Staubus/Randall. Their service, approach, and determination to obtain results exceeded the other attorneys in each case. Mr. Staubus has always come across as genuine while being direct. He gets the process done in a timely manner with results. I will certainly use him again when and if any new challenges arise.”

David

"After my husband's death, I was devastated by having to defend against a vicious dispute over my husband's estate. Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus made me feel very comfortable in this distressing situation. They were very tough and did an excellent job for me in obtaining a summary judgment in my favor without a full jury trial. I was glad to have them and Diane Walker in my corner to help me achieve an excellent result - I won! If I ever had to go back to probate court, I would hire them again.” - (will and trust construction case)

Flo

"If you need intervention for someone you love but don't know where to turn or who to turn to, Julie Blankenship and Keith Staubus helped me through the most difficult and stressful time in my life with a much loved family member. I now believe that good will triumph over evil. They fought for what was right, and good prevailed." (contested guardianship and will contest)

Janet

"As a professional money manager, I have used Ryan Randall's estate planning services both personally and for my clients. Ryan has exhibited three critical attributes in his work with me: (1) high intellectual capacity, (2) exceptional thoroughness, and (3) a total commitment to integrity. In today's litigious world, it can be quite costly not to "get things done right.” An added bonus to us was that we found one of the nicest people we could imagine.”

John

"I was represented by Keith Staubus as an income beneficiary in a lawsuit with the trustee of a family trust. Utilizing the expertise of a forensic accountant and his own trust expertise, Keith was able to negotiate a judicial modification of the trust providing for the buyout of my income interest for a substantial lump sum payment out of the trust, resulting in a win-win situation for all of the parties. I highly recommend Staubus/Randall for any trust disputes and trust modification actions."

Kathy

"I have been a wealth management specialist and retirement plan consultant with the Dallas/Fort Worth financial community for over 20 years. I have engaged Ryan Randall to work with a number of my best clients over the years, including business owners, professionals and families. My clients always appreciate Ryan’s straightforward approach to estate planning, asset protection planning and business succession planning. He makes even the most sophisticated estate planning strategies understandable."

Larry

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