Abilene LGBTQ+ Probate Lawyer
If your partner passes away, the last thing you’re going to want to do is to deal with the paperwork and legal matters. You’ll need time to grieve. This is a time when you need to be surrounded by family and friends. However, like it or not, there are certain things you need to do when your loved one dies. An Abilene LGBTQ+ probate lawyer is here to help guide you through the process.
You’ll have to handle probate for your partner when they pass away. Probate is just a fancy way of saying you’ll have to pay their debts and distribute their assets. This can be complicated. If there’s a will, it may not be that bad. The will tells you exactly who gets what. However, you may not know where to start. You may have no idea what their assets and debts were when they died.
This is when you should consider calling a Texas LGBTQ+ probate lawyer in Abilene. They can guide you through the probate process. They’ve handled dozens of cases just like yours. They know how to deal with the creditors and they know what paperwork is required by the courts. Let them handle the legal side of things while you focus on taking care of your family. Call Eddington & Worley today at 855-949-0056.
Why Do You Need an Abilene LGBTQ+ Probate Lawyer?
Probate is just another way of saying you need to handle your loved one’s debts and assets when they died. It can be a difficult process, depending on your situation. How much work it will take to handle their estate depends on two things:
- The size and complexity of the estate
- The involvement of a probate lawyer
Having a probate lawyer will help make the situation less overwhelming. Your attorney will make sure all the necessary steps are taken to probate your partner’s will. They’ll also deal with the creditors of the estate. And, if there are disputes amongst the beneficiaries, they can handle that for you as well.
Identify the Estate’s Debts and Assets
The first thing you need to determine is what your loved one’s estate is valued at. The following things are part of their estate – these are their assets:
- Real estate property (land, buildings, etc.)
- Assets (boats, vehicles, jewelry, art, books, etc.)
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Investments (stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency, etc.)
All of these assets become part of the estate. These assets will be used to pay all of your loved one’s debts. Whatever is left will be distributed to their heirs. Hopefully, your loved one had a will. If they did, it will indicate who is entitled to what. However, if there is no will, you could run into problems.
The intestacy laws in Texas basically outline who gets what if someone dies without a will. Unfortunately, for LGBTQ+ people, the law can be confusing. For example, if your partner never actually adopted the children you raised together, you could run into issues. The law won’t recognize these children as heirs. That is why it’s so important that members of the LGBTQ+ community draft a will sooner rather than later.
There are some assets that are not subject to creditors. This includes life insurance proceeds. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a probate attorney there to help you, there’s a chance you won’t be aware of this exemption. Some creditors may call and imply that you need to pay your loved one’s debts out of insurance proceeds. This is not the case.
Your LGBTQ+ Probate Lawyer Will Open Up an Estate
Your probate attorney in Abilene will complete the necessary paperwork to open the estate. This is the first step in probate. They’ll fill out the application with the Surrogate Court to make this happen. The application includes some very basic information, such as:
- Date of Birth
- Date of Death
- The deceased’s address
- The names of your loved one’s heirs
The Court will also ask if your partner had a will. If they did, submit a copy of the will with your application. This way, if any of the beneficiaries want to check to make sure they’re listed, they can. The estate will be a public record. This way, both beneficiaries, and creditors can access it.
Once your application is approved, the court clerk will schedule a hearing. This hearing is simply held to determine if the court needs to appoint an executor. The will probably states who is supposed to be the administrator of the estate. If there is no will, the court will sort this out for you.
Once the court approves or appoints an executor, the probate judge will determine if the will is valid. Under Texas law, a will is only valid if they meet certain criteria. If the will isn’t valid, the court will deny it. In situations like this, the court will declare that the intestacy laws will apply. This can be damaging in an LGBTQ+ probate case. It’s important that your loved one’s wishes be followed. Since the intestacy laws don’t protect domestic partners or children who weren’t adopted, you could run into problems.
Because this can be rather complicated, it’s a good idea to have an Abilene LGBTQ+ probate lawyer guide you through the process.
You Must Gather all the Assets
One of the most important things you need to do is collect all the assets. This includes things like real property, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. It also includes jewelry, art, and other personal property.
All of these things will be thrown into the pot. Once the estate has listed all the assets, they will have to work on determining the value of the estate. For some items, this is easy. A bank account will have a final balance. However, when it comes to things like artwork and jewelry, you may need to get appraisals done.
The reason these items need to be appraised is that the creditors of the estate have a right to be paid. If they believe you have undervalued or excluded certain assets, they can file a complaint with the court.
Once you’ve gathered all your loved one’s assets, you have to submit a complete estate inventory to the court. You have ninety (90) days to do this. Once this is complete, you’ll need to deal with the debts and creditors of the estate.
Identify the Creditors of the Estate and Negotiate Payment
Any debts that your partner or spouse had when they died need to be paid. This means you have to notify the creditors that your loved one has passed away. One way to do this is to publish a Notice to Creditors in the local media. This basically announces to the public that your loved has died. It will also include your probate attorney’s address in Abilene. The Notice to Creditors will also let the creditors know how long they have to file their claims.
In Texas, creditors fall into different categories. Basically, there are secured and unsecured creditors. A secured creditor owns a debt that is tied to a piece of property. A mortgage company is an example of a secured creditor. Most other creditors are considered unsecured.
Secured creditors take priority when it comes to paying out claims. Certain other creditors, such as the Internal Revenue Service and Student Loan companies also jump to the front of the line. These creditors will start to contact your probate lawyer to demand payment.
In most cases, the creditor’s claims will be settled for less than the full amount. There is always the chance that there won’t be enough money to pay everybody. By settling most claims, you guarantee that each creditor gets a portion of what they’re owed. Your LGBTQ+ probate lawyer in Abilene can help you do this.
Your Probate Lawyer Will Help Distribute all Assets
Once all creditors are paid, you will have to distribute your loved one’s assets. If there is a will, you’ll use it to guide you through this process. Your partner will have outlined who is to get what. As long as you follow their wishes, you should be okay.
If there is no will, you’ll want your probate attorney to handle this part for you. They know the laws in Texas when it comes to distributing assets. Generally speaking, the spouse and children will get a lion’s share of the assets. This is why estate planning is so important in an LGBTQ+ relationship. It can probate you and your children in case the law does not.
Seek Help from an Experienced LGBTQ+ Probate Attorney in Abilene
Now that you have an idea of how probate works in Texas, it’s time to call an experienced Abilene LGBTQ+ probate lawyer. They can help you every step of the way.
At Eddington Worley, we’ve handled dozens of probate matters similar to yours. We would be happy to put our experience in your service. Call our office at 855-949-0056 and schedule a consultation with one of our probate attorneys in Abilene. You have nothing to lose, but you will gain time and peace of mind!