Divorce

How long will the process take to get a divorce in Texas?
A minimum of 60 days, but more likely about six months in many cases.

How much will it cost?
Depending on your facts, in some cases, a case budget can be provided. But more likely, depending on the parties, the facts, and whether children or property are involved increases the complications and the cost.

Do you charge for the initial interview?
If you print out the first page of my website and bring it with you, then the initial 45 minutes will be of no cost to you at the time of the initial interview.

How experienced are you in family law?
I have been practicing for over twenty years, primarily in the areas of Family Law and Probate.

During the conduct of the case, what is the best way to communicate with my lawyer?
The use of email is encouraged, but we are still using US mail, fax, and couriers to communicate.


Probate with A Will

Do I need to probate the Will?
To answer this question requires reviewing the nature of the estate. Where the estate does not have any unsecured debts, it may not be necessary to probate the Will. However, in cases where there is a Will, and there are unsecured debts or the Will provides for distribution of the Estate to heirs at law pursuant to terms other than by the rules of intestacy, probate by Will will likely be required.


Probate Jurisdiction

Where do I file for probate?
Generally, in the county of actual residence or fixed place of domicile of the decedent. But in some cases where decedent did not have a residence or fixed place of domicile, probate may be filed in the county where decedent expired, or may be filed in the county where decedent had property, or may be filed in the county of nearest kin, or may be filed in the county where the principal estate existed. For a more complete and specific answer, see the Texas Probate Code Sect. 33.

I am not sure of the name of the county where the decedent lived. What do I do?
If the decedent owned a residence, then the answer may be found by a quick check of the deed for the name of the county contained in the legal description. Generally, another competent source of county name information is the U.S. Postal Service at https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupAction!input.action. Just enter the address, obtain the zip, and then select “mailer information” which will provide the name of the county for the address. This almost always works except in those special areas where adjacent counties have running arguments about the location of the boundary line. Online records are also available through the Appraisal District or County Clerk of many counties in Texas that will confirm the name of the county where the decedent lived at the time of death. This search is important, as failure to file in the correct county can have serious legal implications.


Executor / Administrator

In order of priority, who can apply to be appointed an Executor / Administrator of the Estate?

  • The person named executor in decedent’s Will.
  • Decedent’s surviving spouse.
  • The principal devisee or legatee under decedent’s Will.
  • Any devisee or legatee under decedent’s Will.
  • Decedent’s next of kin in nearest order of descent, including a person who adopted decedent or who was adopted by the decedent.
  • A creditor of the decedent.
  • Any person of good character who applies to serve and resides in the county where the application is filed.
  • Any other person not disqualified by the Texas Probate Code, Section 304.

Can the Executor / Administrator qualify and live outside the State of Texas?
Yes, if a Resident Agent is named and accepted by the Court.

Generally, who is disqualified by Section 304 to serve as an Executor / Administrator?
Minors, incompetents, convicted felons who have not been pardoned or had civil rights restored, non-residents of Texas who have not appointed a resident agent for service of process, corporations that are not authorized to act as fiduciaries in Texas, and persons found unsuitable by the court.


Probate

What is Citation?
Section 51 of the Texas Probate Code allows for “posting” in many probate matters. On filing of the application and payment of the appropriate fees, the County Clerk will usually prepare the actual citation form and deliver it to the Sheriff or Constable for posting. See Section 51 for complete rules and application.

When is Publication Required?
In certain instances, “publication” in the paper is required. At the time of filing, and payment of the necessary fee; the County Clerk will prepare the form of the necessary notice and deliver it to the local paper used for legal notices. Publication is used to notify unknown heirs and/or expediters; that is, potential parties at interest for which you do not have the necessary contact information.

When is Personal Service Required?
Some probate and guardianship procedures require personal notice; i.e. service of process (papers) by a disinterested person (process server) to the party at interest. Personal service may be accomplished by hand delivery, certified mail (domestic delivery), registered mail (foreign delivery), depending on the circumstances and probate code requirements.

The need for personal service may be avoided by having persons at interest execute “Waivers” to be filed with the Court. Waivers must be dated and executed after the time of filing, preferably at least the next day to avoid confusion about the order of execution. Any legally competent person may give Waiver of notice.

Do beneficiaries of the Will need be notified?
By statute, within 60 days of the signing of an order admitting a Will to probate, the personal representative under the Will must give written notice to each beneficiary, heir, and legatee named in the Will. For more information, and a definition of beneficiaries, see Texas Probate Code 308. Good form suggests that complications of probate may be avoided in some situations by providing a copy of the Will to potential beneficiaries prior to offering the Will for probate. Suspicion as to purpose may be avoided proactively by removing questions from the minds of the interested parties. Pre-hearing notices are required in certain guardianship proceedings. To avail the Estate of certain protections of the Probate Code and to begin the clock for expiration of the statute of limitations, notice to special creditors and certain governmental beneficiaries and agencies is required; for more, see the Code.

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal Will in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin Counties with Letters Testamentary?
Attorney time: $1,450.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00.
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal will in Parker, Rockwall, Hunt, Wise Counties?
Attorney time: $1,650.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much for an appearance in other north Texas counties?
Attorney time: Negotiated for uncontested probate, often depending on distance to venue.

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal Will as a Muniment of Title in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin Counties?
Attorney time: $1,150.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal Will as a Muniment of Title in Parker, Rockwall, Hunt, Wise Counties?
Attorney time: $1,250.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much for an appearance in other north Texas counties?
Attorney time: Negotiated for uncontested probate, often depending on distance to venue.

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal Will with Court Created Independent Administration in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin Counties with Letters Testamentary?
Attorney time: $2,000.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much does it cost to probate an uncontested formal will with Court Created Independent Administration in Parker, Rockwall, Hunt, Wise Counties?
Attorney time: $2,200.00
Court Costs / Filing Fees: Actual amount scheduled by the county but range from $250.00 to approx. $300.00
Electronic Filing Fees: Actual, usually $10.00 to approximate $50.00
Certified Copies: Actual cost (approximately $1.00 per page plus certification in some counties)

How much for an appearance in other north Texas counties?
Attorney time: Negotiated for uncontested probate, often depending on distance to venue.


Guardianship

When is a guardianship necessary?
A guardianship is necessary for adults that cannot effectively manage their money or personal activities.  A guardianship may become necessary for children, without any surviving family that is willing to care for a child.

To learn more about estate planning, divorce, or child custody, contact our attorneys today.