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Estate Planning and Probate

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is developing a strategy to manage and control your assets during your life and ensuring that your wishes regarding your assets are carried out upon your death.

Each person’s estate plan will be influenced by a variety of factors including your age, health, marital status, orientation, wealth, family and intentions. A person with limited assets and strong desires regarding ultimate beneficiaries will have a different estate plan from someone with significant investments who wants to minimize any tax impact and take care of their children.

Your estate plan can include designations of agents to make business or medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself, can designate guardians for your children and can appoint a personal representative (an executor) to wind up your affairs upon your death.

Regardless of the size of your current estate, it is to your benefit (and to the benefit of your loved ones) to design an estate plan before the need arises. You can schedule a complimentary consultation with Rebecca Covell to determine your needs, goals and intentions for an estate plan. Once your needs and intentions are evaluated, the firm can prepare tailored documents that may include a will, revocable or irrevocable trust, powers of attorney for medical and business decisions, advance directives (living wills), declaration of guardian for yourself and for minor children, designation of an agent to make memorial arrangements and organ donor designations.

What is probate?

Probate is a court proceeding to wind up the affairs of someone who has died. Texas has one of the easiest probate systems in the country. There is a process for probating a small estate by an affidavit (small estate affidavit), for filing a will just to transfer title to a home or other real property (muniment of title), for appointing an independent executor who can handle all of the affairs of the deceased estate without court supervision (independent administration) and for creating an administration that requires court approval of every step (dependent administration). Sometimes no will can be found yet matters must be handled. There are restrictions regarding which process can be employed so the input of an attorney who is familiar with Texas probate is critical.

Each estate is different. Circumstances will dictate which probate process is the right one. Schedule an appointment with Rebecca to discuss the options for winding up the affairs of a decedent. The firm can file all necessary pleadings with the court to probate an estate and will guide the executor or administrator through the administration process.

Texas probate law is different from the other 49 states. If you have moved to Texas and have a will or other estate planning documents created in another state, you should have it reviewed for compliance with Texas law. Call to schedule an appointment to review any existing documents.

Important Articles & Useful Links

Rebecca Covell was featured on July 30, 2013 in this KDFW Fox 4 News segment about estate planning. She has advice for those just getting started.
Dallas News |

Bequeathing the Keys to Your Digital Afterlife
An assortment of services can help you and your heirs organize the online accounts that you will eventually leave behind.
The New York Times

The Talk You Didn't Have With Your Parents Could Cost You
Children may be reluctant to ask aging parents about their estate and financial affairs, but information shared can prevent confusion later.
The New York Times

What are the rules for using the labels Jr., Sr., III, etc. in a name?
Three traditional rules govern these labels (although often ignored in modern usage).
LawProse Blog