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3 good reasons for an estate to go through probate

When most people plan their estate, the primary concern is often avoiding probate court. However, for heirs and beneficiaries, as well as people planning their estate, it's important to understand that probate court can have some benefits.

Probate involves a professional, experienced judge reviewing the case and ensuring that the allocation of assets and debts complies with Texas law and follows the wishes of the testator. There are three distinct benefits to going through probate instead of avoiding it, particularly with a complicated estate with a variety of valuable assets.

There wasn't a last will or estate plan

When someone dies without a last will, they died intestate. Thankfully, there are specific rules in place that guide the Texas courts in distributing the various assets of someone who dies without an estate plan or last will. These laws protect dependents and close family members by allocating assets to them.

Going through probate court in the event that someone dies without a last will reduces the risk of someone challenging the estate in the future and may be legally required if the overall value of the assets exceed a certain amount.

There's major discord within the family or circle of heirs about the estate

The more the estate is worth, the more likely it is that people within the family or named as heirs in the will are going to argue over whether the last will was valid and fair to them under Texas law. Individual family members could very well bring a challenge against an estate that does not go through probate, thereby forcing everyone through the probate process despite the existence of a carefully thought-out estate plan.

If you have any reason to believe that individuals will challenge the estate or its administration, having the estate go through probate may be the simplest way to avoid future issues and streamline the process. Not only will it ensure that there is an adequate review of the last will and the administration of the estate, but it will likely prevent people from continuing to complain about estate issues in the future.

You don't trust the estate plan or last will

Estate planning often requires ongoing consideration and revisions as people age and their families change. Unfortunately, changing an estate plan later in life could mean that there are questions regarding the legitimacy of those changes.

From concerns about undue influence from a caretaker or spouse to issues with reduced mental capacity at the time of final revisions or a suspected fraudulent signature, there are many potential issues that arise when family members are uncertain about the validity of the last will or its contents. The probate courts can explore everything from which version of the will is most authoritative to whether there is legitimacy to claim undue influence.

Instead of viewing probate as something you should avoid at all costs, consider probate as what it truly is. Probate court is a tool that helps the state and family members determine the most reasonable and legally sound ways to handle the assets of someone who dies when there is either concern about the validity of the last will or no last will to be found.

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