I'm executor of a friend's Will and it's an independent administration without bond. My friend lived and died in Collin County, Texas. They didn't own much (about $20k) so I thought I just needed to file the will and distribute the assets, but the Collin County Probate website says that by state statute only a lawyer can file the Will. My question is - do I really have to file the Will when the estate's really small, and do I really have to hire an attorney to do it? How much will that cost?
Yes, a will must be filed for probate. Otherwise, the executor named in the will has no legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. Most judges require executors be represented by a lawyer. The lawyer's fees can be paid from the estate. You may find a flat fee lawyer willing to undertake this simple matter for $1,500 - under $2,000, but you should not expect a lot of personal attention at that price.
Look for lawyers with a high Avvo Rating™, and/or a high Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory Peer Review Rating™ (at http://lawyers.com).
Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services. My Avvo posts are based on limited information provided and are not intended as conclusive legal advice.
Without more information about the assets and whether or not there are debts, it is unclear whether or not any of the alternatives to probate might work in these particular circumstances. I do recommend that you speak with an attorney who regularly practices probate to go through the details and see what options you might have. Many lawyers are flexible in their fee arrangements and often offer flat fee arrangements so you know what the total fee will be up front. I am sorry for your loss, and wish you luck in honoring your friend's wishes.
The information in this answer is of a general nature and may not apply under the specific facts of your circumstance. By answering this anonymous question, an attorney-client relationship is not established, and the person asking the question is not and has not become a client of attorney by and through this question and answer. Nothing about attorney providing this information shall serve to disqualify the answering attorney from a future representation on this topic.
The previous responses are correct. You need an attorney to probate the estate. The Executor obtains the legal power to gather and distribute the assets of the Estate from the Letters Testamentary that are received once the Application to probate has been approved. If the Estate is truly as uncomplicated as you say, it will not be difficult to find a reasonable attorney to assist you with the process for an equally reasonable fee.
Yes, most counties in Texas require that estates are represented by an attorney. Otherwise, it would be the unauthorized practice of law to have you represent the estate without an attorney. Whether the will needs to be probated depends on the assets. If there are insurance policies, bank accounts, etc, it is likely you will need letters testamentary to get access to the assets. Therefore you must go through probate. The costs will vary, depending on the attorney. Reach out to some that practice in your area. Good luck to you.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been created and we have no obligations to you or your case.
Yes, an attorney is necessary to file the application to probate the Will and have you appointed as Executor. As Executor you will be required to undertake certain actions, including publishing a notice for creditors, giving notice to the beneficiaries, and filing an list of claims and filing an inventory of assets. An attorney can help you through all of these things. It does not have to be expensive, but it does have to be one. And, as others have indicated, the fees and expenses can be paid by the Estate.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline