Home » FAQs
By population, the DFW metro area has the largest population of any other area in Texas. Dallas is the largest city in the DWF metro area. It makes sense that Dallas has one of the highest death rates in the state.
The statistics show that about 150,000 to 200,000 Texas residents die each year. They also show that more than 40,000 residents of the DFW metro area die each year. They also show that 14,000 to 18,000 of these residents lived in Dallas County. For example, in 2015, nearly 16,000 residents of Dallas County died. That averages out to approximately 1,300 deaths each month.
There are several cities and municipalities that are in Dallas County that are not part of the City of Dallas. If you look just at deaths in the City of Dallas, they range from 12,000 to 15,000 a year. The 2015 data shows 14,000 deaths in the City of Dallas. That is more than 1,000 deaths each month.
By population, the DFW metro area has the largest population of any other area in Texas. Fort Worth is the second-largest city in the DFW-Metro area. Because of this, Fort Worth has a large amount of death compared to other Texas cities.
Statistics show that nearly 200,000 Texas residents die each year. They also show that more than 40,000 residents of the DFW metro area die each year. In Tarrant County, home to Forth Worth, about 12,900 people died in 2016.
Tarrant County encompasses many municipalities and cities other than Fort Worth. Because of this, the Fort Worth death count will be lower than Tarrant County. With almost 43% of Tarrant County residents calling Forth Worth home, it averages out to about 450 deaths per month in Fort Worth.
Probate is the orderly process of winding up the business affairs of a person who has passed away.
If there is a will, the probate court determines whether the document is the true last and valid will of a decedent. If there is no will, the probate court will conduct an heirship proceeding to determine who the decedent’s heirs are.
Probate assets are assets controlled by the decedent’s will or, absent a will, Texas intestacy laws. This includes assets titled in the decedent’s name without a designated beneficiary.
The successful completion of probate enables the decedent’s property to be distributed among beneficiaries, creditors, and any others with a valid interest in a decedent’s estate.
The probate process can be a tricky thing. The length and cost of probate can be heavily influenced by family conflict and estate complexities. Whether or not you ultimately chose to hire a lawyer, you should make sure you are familiar with your local probate laws. In the answer below, we will address the best time to hire a probate attorney.
Before deciding when (or if) you need a probate attorney, you need to understand what exactly a probate attorney does. A probate lawyer is a state-licensed attorney who works with the executors and the beneficiaries of an estate to settle the affairs of the decedent.
A probate lawyer can assist in many of the responsibilities throughout the probate process. They can ensure that any documents required by the probate court are filed in an appropriate manner and timely fashion. Probate lawyers can help identify and secure probate assets, and help obtain appraisals for any of the deceased party’s property.
Additionally, probate attorneys can advise on the payment of the deceased person’s bills and outstanding debts, and keep track of the estate’s checking accounts. They can also manage the payment of any relevant estate and inheritance taxes, and make sure any income tax concerns are promptly addressed.
On top of these matters, probate lawyers also frequently assist with settling disputes, the sale of estate property, and distributing assets.
Probate is not a fast process. No two probate cases are exactly the same. Complications often arise. These complications can cause delays. There are other instances when you may want to hold a probate open longer, such as waiting for a minor to become an adult so that they can receive distributions.
With that said, it is common for the probate process to take at least seven months in Texas. This seven-month period does not mean that you are actively working on the probate every day. The probate process is better described as a series of tasks where you “do one thing, then wait” as you go through the tasks.
If you want to know more about the seven months, it can be helpful to think of the probate process as two distinct phases. The first phase takes about three months. This phase includes all of the tasks necessary to get you (or someone else) appointed as the executor or administrator. The second phase takes about four months (at minimum). This second phase includes all of the tasks necessary to administer and close the estate.
If the timing of the probate is a concern, there may be alternatives to probate that you can consider. These alternates are often faster and, in many cases, less expensive.
This may include probating a will as a family settlement agreement, muniment of title, small estate affidavit, affidavits of heirship, or a combination of these options.
One of the first concerns that arise for many people thinking about probating a Will is the cost of the probate process. Texas law allows a streamlined process of probating wills. This streamlined process is called independent administration. If independent administration is provided for in the Will, executors and administrators can carry out their duties largely independently of court supervision. This can significantly reduce the attorney’s fees and some of the costs.
While there are several types of fees incurred throughout the probate process. These costs can generally be grouped into a few main categories.
The fees range from $1 for copies to $335 for a combined application for administration and determination of heirship.
The fees will vary from county to county throughout the state of Texas. Below is a list of links to the fee schedules for several DFW Counties.
In most states, the executor of the will must publish the estate’s probate notice in a public newspaper or publication. Typically, the executor will publish the probate notice in a local community newspaper or magazine for about $200.
The fee may range from what is deemed a reasonable fixed fee up to a certain percentage of the estate’s value. The total attorney’s fees may be as low as $3,000 or significantly higher–depending on the work involved, the complexity, etc.
Executors, or personal representatives, can ask for additional “extraordinary fees” for any services that are above and beyond those considered to be basic probate services.
In Texas dependent administration, your probate attorney will be involved in:
Additionally, your personal representative or executor will have to pay for and post a bond in an amount determined by the probate judge before they can be appointed. This is generally paid for by the estate.
Accounting fees for probate in Texas will vary based on the value of the estate and the assets that are owned.
If there are federal taxes to be paid, then accounting fees will also need to include the preparation and filing of tax returns. If the attorney prepares and files the returns, those fees would also be under the attorney fees.
Probate will require date-of-death values of personal property, real estate, and business interests.
Appraisal fees for personal property will vary. Typically the cost can be from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, while business valuation fees can run several thousand dollars.
Miscellaneous fees could include but are not limited to shipping personal property, storing personal property, and postage. These fees could also include a federal estate tax of 40% on larger estates.
With over 20 years of experience helping, Texans understand and tackle the probate process, we’ve learned the ropes in quite a few different counties and cities. Below we have put together a list of our common practice areas. These are counties and cities in which we have handled many probate cases and understand the local laws and rules better than any other probate attorneys in the Dallas area.
Probate is usually the only option if there is a family dispute if there is property and bills that may go unpaid if there are minor heirs or beneficiaries or if there is a financial account that cannot be accessed without probate. Absent these situations, there are other alternatives that may work.
Probate can often be avoided with effective estate planning. This usually has to be done prior to death.
Estate planning may include executing a revocable or irrevocable trust, holding property jointly, filling out beneficiary designations, and/or making lifetime gifts or transfers. This type of planning may be easier than you think.
If your loved one did not do this or their estate plan did not dispose of all of their property, there still may be alternatives for settling their estate outside of probate.
One way to avoid probate is to use a small estate affidavit. The small estate affidavit can only be used if there is no will and if the estate assets are valued at less than $75,000. It cannot be used if the estate includes real estate (other than a homestead that passes to the surviving spouse or dependent children) and other types of exempt property (vehicle, home furnishings, livestock, and tools). It also cannot be used if there are debts owed by the estate that will not be paid.
The affidavit of heirship can also be used to avoid probate in some cases. The affidavit of heirship is used when there is no will and the only asset in the estate is real estate. It only serves to record who the heirs are and serves as evidence that the heirs inherited the real estate. The affidavit also cannot be used if there are family disputes or debts.
Probate can also be avoided in some cases by using a family settlement agreement. A family settlement agreement is a contract between the heirs as to who gets what from the estate. These agreements can only be used if the heirs agree and, generally, there are no debts that will go unpaid.
Probate court is a specialized part of the judicial system that handles such matters as estates, wills, and guardianships, as well as the commitment of mentally ill persons to institutions that are designed to help them. Probate matters include the administration of estates of deceased persons, will contests, the guardianship of minors and incapacitated persons, and mental illness matters.
The basic role of the probate court judge is to make sure that the deceased person’s creditors are paid, and that any remaining assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries. The process can quickly become lengthy if complications arise. For example, when wills are contested the probate court holds the responsibility of ruling on the authenticity of the will and the mental stability of the individual who signed it.
The Texas Constitution grants jurisdiction over probate matters to either the constitutional county court or the district court.
In some counties, the Legislature has granted the county court at law concurrent jurisdiction in probate matters with the constitutional county court. In other counties, the Legislature has granted the county court at law concurrent jurisdiction in probate matters with the district court. In the more populated counties, the Legislature has created specialized probate courts (entitled statutory probate courts) to hear probate matters exclusively.
Thus, probate matters might be heard in the county court, county court at law, statutory probate court, or district court of a particular county.
Probate is a legal procedure by which a court oversees the allocation of assets to beneficiaries and payments of debts of a person who has died. Many states have a specialized probate court. Outside of Texas, there are some states a probate court is called by other names, such as Chancery Court, Orphan’s Court or Surrogate’s Court. The role of the probate court is to make sure that a deceased person’s debts are paid and assets are allocated to the correct beneficiaries. The term probate is used to describe the legal process that manages the assets and liabilities left behind by a recently deceased person.
These probate courts appoint someone to take control of the deceased person’s assets, ensure that all debts are properly paid, and distribute the remaining property to the correct beneficiaries. This individual is called the executor or administrator.
The probate process begins in Texas when a person files a petition for probate with the county probate court system. This petition is generally filed by a designator of the deceased’s will or a family member of the deceased.
After the petition is filed the executor or administrator is appointed by the probate court. The executor or administrator holds the responsibility of allocating the deceased’s estate to the correct beneficiaries, among other administrative duties. Generally, a probate lawyer is hired to deal with the complexities of probate.
Probating a will is the term used for a legal process in which a will is reviewed to determine whether it is valid and authentic. Probate also refers to the general administering of a deceased person’s will. Probate can also pertain to the administration of a deceased person’s estate that did not have a will. When someone dies without a will this is known as dying intestate.
After an asset holder dies, the court appoints either an executor that was named in the will or an administrator (absent a will) to administer the probate process. This involves auditing the assets of a deceased person to pay any liabilities remaining on the person’s estate, and to distribute the assets of the estate to beneficiaries.
Our Dallas Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process. We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney.