Laurels

Best Probate Lawyers
2022

The Best Probate Lawyers
Here Are The Top Probate Lawyers
McCulloch & Miller, PLLC

McCulloch & Miller, PLLC

McCulloch & Miller, PLLC is a legal practice that serves individuals, families, and businesses in the Houston area. Through careful estate planning services, the team helps clients in avoiding probate court by drafting and creating wills, durable powers of attorney, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, medical powers of attorney, and other relevant health care paperwork including HIPAA authorizations. Its principal estate planning lawyer, Thomas W. McCulloch, also deals with public benefits planning and Medicaid crisis planning. He brings over 35 years of experience in the industry.

Houston, TX 77056

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Law Office of Monica R. Hennessey, PLLC

Law Office of Monica R. Hennessey, PLLC

The Law Office of Monica R. Hennessey, PLLC, handles the estate planning and probate needs of individuals in Houston. It deals with various types of probate in the state, including independent and dependent administration, heirship, muniment of title, and small estate affidavit. Any conflict that may arise between representatives and receivers of the decedents' assets is also managed by the firm's legal staff. Lawyer Monica R. Hennessey has been practicing law in the area of estate planning and probate since 2016.

Houston, TX 77084

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Strohmeyer Law PLLC

Strohmeyer Law PLLC

Serving Houston, Strohmeyer Law PLLC is a firm practicing in estate planning and administration, taxes, and business planning. It guides clients in settling the affairs of their deceased loved ones. The probate process involves executor appointment, verification of the last will and testament, and collection and distribution of the decedent's assets to beneficiaries after debt and tax issues are resolved. John R. Strohmeyer, its attorney, is a board-certified specialist in estate planning and probate law.

Houston, TX 77098

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Dwane Todd Law Firm, PLLC Attorneys at Law

Dwane Todd Law Firm, PLLC Attorneys at Law

Dwane Todd Law Firm, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, is a team of two lawyers that serves Houston and nearby locations. They practice several areas of the law, including probate litigation and estate planning. They also handle matters concerning trusts, wills, guardianships, and business formation. In addition, the attorneys offer legal counsel for same-sex married couples. The law office is headed by Dwane L. Todd, who obtained his Juris Doctor in 1983. He established the firm in 1991.

Houston, TX 77002

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Holmes Law, PLLC

Holmes Law, PLLC

Holmes Law, PLLC, is a business law firm that serves the residents of Houston and its surrounding areas. It assists clients who have probate concerns by helping them with creating business succession plans, drafting last wills and testaments, making arrangements to protect families or heirs, and purchasing additional life insurance. Other practice areas that the firm works in include business dispute resolution, business consultation, business and LLC formation, and oil and gas laws.

Houston, TX 77046

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Manfred Sternberg & Associates

Manfred Sternberg & Associates

Manfred Sternberg & Associates is a Houston-based law firm that serves clients across the area. It guides families on the probate process and works to resolve concerns involving estate administration. The firm helps individuals avoid estate disputes through solutions like drafting testaments. It also assists lottery winners in protecting their winnings by setting up living trusts. The firm's principal attorney, Manfred Sternberg, is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in consumer and commercial law. He has over three decades of legal experience.

Houston, TX 77056

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Chargois Harper

Chargois Harper

Chargois Harper provides legal services in Houston such as probate, estate planning, real estate, landlord-tenant law, and family law. It guides clients through the process of probate, from identifying beneficiaries and assets to distributing inheritances. It assists in wills, estate plans, guardianship, and power of attorney. Its lawyers have over 30 years of experience in the firm’s practice areas. Partner Sherlyn Harper has 20 years of legal experience and was a licensed social worker.

Houston, TX 77079

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Fizer Beck

Fizer Beck

Fizer Beck offers legal services from its office in Houston. Its attorneys represent beneficiaries, heirs, trustees, and individual and corporate executors in the process of probate. They prepare gift and federal estate tax returns and counsel clients on fiduciary duties, will provisions, and trust interpretations. In addition, the lawyers create estate and business succession plans. Roger Beck, one of the firm's shareholders, is a board-certified estate planning and probate law specialist. He is also a fellow of the America College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Houston, TX 77057

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Gray Reed & McGraw LLP

Gray Reed & McGraw LLP

Founded in 1985, Gray, Reed, & McGraw LLP is a law firm with offices in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, that represents beneficiaries, executors, trustees, guardians, creditors, and charitable organizations with probate matters. The firm's attorneys assist clients with will contests, beneficiary disputes, fiduciary litigation, contested guardianships, and complex creditor claims. Other services include estate accounting, beneficiary communications, fiduciary succession, and changes to trusts. The firm also handles estate planning, such as setting up trusts, designating beneficiaries, and preparing wills.

Houston, TX 77056

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Morris Ostrom Law

Morris Ostrom Law

Morris Ostrom Law is a Houston-based law firm that handles probate and estate administration cases. This firm is dedicated to helping will executors get through the probate process as quickly as possible so that the estate can be closed and assets can be distributed to rightful heirs. Attorney Jason B. Ostrom has been provided an AV-Preeminent peer-rating by Martindale-Hubbell and has received recognition from Super Lawyers, Houston's Top Lawyers, and Houstonia.

Houston, TX 77006

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Expert Answers To Common Questions:

  1. What does a probate attorney do?
  2. What is probate court?
  3. How long do you have to file probate after death?
  4. Does life insurance go through probate?
  5. Do household items go through probate?
  6. Do bank accounts with beneficiaries have to go through probate?
  7. What happens if no probate is filed?
  8. What is probate real estate?
  9. Can I probate a will or estate without an attorney?
  10. How many years can an estate remain in probate?
  11. When is a will's probate an automatic process?
  12. What does it mean when property is under probate?
Q: What does a probate attorney do?
A:
Probate attorneys are licensed professionals who represent executors and heirs after someone has died. They provide personalized legal advice, assist with tax planning, settle debts, and facilitate the distribution of assets. Probate attorneys typically represent clients during administrative proceedings overseen by probate courts, although some litigators focus on handling disputes and lawsuits related to contested estates.
Q: What is probate court?
A:
Probate court works with the family or beneficiaries of a deceased person to validate their last will and testament. The courts review the individual's will to identify and calculate assets, pay off remaining debts, and distribute the remaining property to beneficiaries per the deceased person's requests. Depending on state laws, property valued under a certain amount may not require probate.
Q: How long do you have to file probate after death?
A:
The amount of time loved ones have to file a will after a person dies varies from state to state. While California courts require probate to be filed within one year, New York has no deadline. That being said, it's advisable to file probate as quickly as possible once a person has died, as the process itself can take anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year.
Q: Does life insurance go through probate?
A:
Life insurance doesn't need to go through the probate courts if the deceased individual has named a beneficiary on their policy. However, life insurance policies without beneficiaries, or with beneficiaries who are either deceased themselves or cannot be contacted, go directly to the deceased individual's estate. When this happens, life insurance proceeds must go through probate court to determine how funds should be allocated.
Q: Do household items go through probate?
A:
While the exact rules do vary from state to state, most household items don't require probate and are automatically left to immediate families unless otherwise stated in the deceased person's will. When it comes to property, only items above a certain value or held in title are required to go through probate in most states.
Q: Do bank accounts with beneficiaries have to go through probate?
A:
In the event a beneficiary has been named, bank accounts are not required to go through probate and will be paid directly to the person designated by the deceased individual. However, should that individual be deceased themselves or if contact cannot be made after a certain period of time, funds will be allocated to the estate and put through the probate process.
Q: What happens if no probate is filed?
A:
Depending on the circumstances, probate may not be required in all cases. If a person passes on and their remaining property is jointly owned, it automatically transfers to the other owner. However, if a property is not jointly owned and no probate has been filed, the executor of the will won't be able to transfer titles or cash assets to beneficiaries. Be aware that the specific laws surrounding probate requirements vary from state to state.
Q: What is probate real estate?
A:
Probate real estate is the process that happens when a realtor steps in to handle the sale or transfer of a deceased person's owned home to another individual. In some cases, the house is sold as a means of liquidating assets, and proceeds from the sale are used to pay debts or are distributed to beneficiaries.
Q: Can I probate a will or estate without an attorney?
A:
It is possible to probate a will and close an estate without hiring an attorney. However, it requires multiple steps and an understanding of the law. The first step is to petition the court to appoint a representative for the estate. Next, the executor must notify all heirs and creditors before switching ownership from the decedent to the estate. Once all debts, taxes, and final expenses have been paid, funds can be transferred to heirs. To close an estate, the executor must submit a report showing the court that all obligations and final wishes have been satisfied. While a will and estate may seem straightforward, things can get complicated quickly if multiple heirs are involved, or if disputes or disagreements arise over distribution. A probate lawyer can help navigate these disputes effectively, and take pressure off the executor when beneficiaries aren’t getting along.
Q: How many years can an estate remain in probate?
A:
If the will or proposed distribution of property is contested, an estate may remain in probate for several years. The timeline depends on how long relatives have to initiate probate, how long creditors have to come forward, and how busy the courts are. In some states, such as Florida, relatives have just 10 days to initiate probate, and the entire process takes approximately six months. In other areas, such as Massachusetts, the process can last one to two years, although the majority of probate activities occur in the first nine months. The value of the estate also affects the duration of the case. For example, California and Texas have simplified procedures for smaller estates, such as those valued at $150,000 or less.
Q: When is a will's probate an automatic process?
A:
Probate is the legal process of validating a last will and testament to ensure that the decedent's wishes are followed. A probate judge may automatically clear wills if they're accompanied by an affidavit from the decedent, a notary, and a witness. Some assets, including financial accounts with designated beneficiaries, and funds held by certain types of trusts don't have to go through probate.
Q: What does it mean when property is under probate?
A:
Real estate that's under probate is typically liquidated through the court system, which is most common when someone dies without a will. Home buyers who are interested in this type of property must follow special rules regarding deposits, which are sometimes nonrefundable, and buyer's premiums. Additionally, the court must approve the purchase price.