Texas Trust & Estate Administration
Guiding Families & Individuals in Boerne, New Braunfels, San Antonio
Let us help you with settling a Texas estate after the loss of a loved one.
There is enough to deal with after the loss of a loved one. Whether you are dealing with a probate matter that requires court involvement or trust administration outside of the traditional court probate process, our attorneys can assist and guide you through the process of settling a Texas estate. We are often hired to handle the legal work necessary to administer the estate, so that our clients have the time and energy to focus on what matters, their family and loved ones.
Probate and estate administration are the processes through which estate assets are transferred after death. When probate avoidance planning has not been implemented prior to death, the state of Texas will require a probate court proceeding if the deceased was a resident or owned assets in the state. Probate can be supervised or unsupervised. In an unsupervised probate, the appointed Texas estate administrator manages assets, pays any debts, files required tax returns and various court documents, and distributes the estate assets. However, the court may at any time require the process to be supervised (usually when someone expresses concern about the estate administration). In a supervised probate, the probate judge must approve every detail of the estate administration.
Read more about the probate process in our article Be Aware of Probate.
Because probate can be a lengthy, costly, and public process, many people choose to avoid it. There are a number of legal strategies that will enable settling a Texas estate more easily by passing property to another person after death, without going through probate.
- Joint Tenancy & Tenancy by the Entirety. Adding another person to your assets as a joint owner or “joint tenant with rights of survivorship” will allow your property to pass to them upon your death without going through probate. There are pitfalls to this strategy, however, which include subjecting such assets to any claims (such as lawsuits) against the co-owner and making them available to the co-owner’s creditors — all while you are still alive and planning on using the assets yourself
- Beneficiary Designations. Texas allows Transfer on Death (TOD) or Pay on Death (POD) beneficiary designations to be added to bank accounts. Beneficiary designations like these are preferable to joint tenancy in that they allow you to transfer property only upon your death without giving away current ownership. One of the drawbacks, however, is that it can be difficult to obtain an equitable distribution of property among your heirs by utilizing beneficiary designations. Additionally, understand that if you have beneficiaries listed on your assets, those assets will be distributed upon your death to the listed beneficiaries, even if your last will and testament states otherwise. It is possible to designate a Revocable Living Trust as a TOD and POD beneficiary.
- Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that allows you to establish a separate entity (the trust) to “hold” legal title to your assets while you are alive, and to name trustees to manage those assets according to the trust terms. Typically, you serve as the trustee while you are alive, managing your assets for your own benefit. Upon your disability or death, the trust terms appoint your successor trustee who then continues to manage — or distribute — the assets held in trust. A properly drafted trust can accomplish many goals, including guardianship and probate avoidance for your estate, and bloodline, marital and creditor protection for your children.
Texas Estate and Trust Administration
A properly drafted and funded trust will generally avoid probate. The trust need not be filed with the probate court, maintaining your privacy. Nonetheless, there are still steps necessary to administer the trust: beneficiaries must be contacted; assets must be gathered, valued and managed; potential creditors must be notified; debts, taxes and final expenses must be paid; and, ultimately, any remaining income and assets must be distributed in compliance with the trust terms. Successor trustees often lack the time, resources or knowledge to personally administer the trust, and therefore may call upon legal, accounting and investment professionals for assistance. Read more about What Does a Successor Trustee Do?
Oftentimes, a corporate fiduciary (e.g., a trust company) is an excellent alternative to relying solely on busy family members or friends to serve as trustee. McCammon Law, P.C. can help your successor trustee(s) deal with the complexities of administering your trust or settling a Texas estate. Please call our office at (830) 251-2115 and we will be happy to schedule a free consultation appointment, whether or not our office has drafted the original trust.
As the executor under a will or the successor trustee of a trust there are many legal and fiduciary obligations that you are required to fulfill. Our job, as the attorney for the estate representative, is to keep you in compliance with the law and help you settle the estate in a timely and straightforward manner.
WHAT WILL AN ESTATE ADMINISTRATOR DO FOR ME?
Although similar to probate administration, there are some key differences involved in estate administration. The parts of an estate that do not go through probate, such as a trust, are left to the Texas estate administrator.
When choosing your administrator, it is important to select someone you can trust implicitly. Family members or attorneys are often appointed for this duty. Our lawyers have served many families in the Texas Hill Country as trusted estate administrators.
Higher amounts of wealth can often lead to a more complicated estate administration process and the administrator must be able to act as impartially as possible.
An estate administrator may be responsible for all of the following:
- Locating trust documents
- Terminating credit cards
- Resolving disputes in the probate process
- Reviewing and distributing trust allocations
- Handling insurance needs
- Filing tax returns
From start to finish, McCammon Law, P.C. is here for you. Not only can our legal team help in preparing your estate plan, we can help your loved ones down the road with any trust and estate administration needs when the time comes.
Attorney Shawn McCammon believes in giving our clients the very best. The intimate size of our firm allows us to serve you in a way that many larger firms simply cannot. For a free and confidential estate planning or trust administration consultation, give us a call today at (830) 251-2115!