A big concern for many people thinking of probating a Will is the cost of the probate process. Texas law allows for a streamlined process of probating Wills called independent administration. If independent administration is provided for in the Will, executors and administrators can perform their duties largely independent of court supervision, thereby reducing the cost. In this article we will discuss the costs involved in probating a Will in Texas. Austin probate lawyer Farren Sheehan can help answer questions and assist with probate proceedings in the Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Cedar Park areas.
Types of Costs
The primary types of costs involved in probating a Will are:
- Court costs; and
- Attorney’s fees.
A person does not have to be a lawyer to serve as an executor, administrator, or guardian. However, an executor, administrator, or guardian must be represented by a lawyer in probate court, because an executor of a decedent’s estate has a fiduciary duty to represent the interests of beneficiaries and creditors, not just himself or herself. Therefore, individuals applying for letters testamentary, letters of administration, determinations of heirship, and guardianships of the person or estate must be represented by a licensed attorney.
Attorney’s fees are usually based on the amount of time an attorney will need to spend on a case. Independent administrations are often streamlined and cost-efficient, involving less court supervision and fewer filings.
A dependent administration may be more costly due to increased oversight by the probate court and additional mandatory court filings and hearings. In a dependent administration, an attorney will help with filing bonds, court appearances, obtaining court approval for selling assets and paying claims, accountings and other matters required by the court. As a result, attorney’s fees will likely be higher in a dependent administration.
It is a good idea to discuss attorney’s fees at an initial meeting with your probate lawyer. The attorney can detail his or her charges as well as court costs so that the client understands the cost of the probate process. Many times the fees can be paid by the assets of the deceased before final distribution to the beneficiaries.
Court Costs in Travis County Probate Court
The Travis County Probate Court is a statutory probate court with jurisdiction to probate the Wills of deceased persons, declare the heirs of deceased persons who die without a Will, establish guardianships for incapacitated persons and minors, supervise court-ordered involuntary mental health commitments, and administer eminent domain cases initiated in Travis County.
When probating a Will in the Travis County Probate Court, the court charges court costs for filing documents. For example, the court costs for filing certain applications, such as an Application for Probate of Will and for Issuance of Letters Testamentary or an Application for Appointment of Independent/Dependent Administrator and Determination of Heirship can range from approximately $300.00 to $800.00. The application cost includes service by citation by the constable, and other fees allowed by statute. The court also charges for issuances of Letters and Orders, other filings, and additional copies.
How a Probate Attorney Can Help
Generally, an attorney will be hired to represent an executor throughout the probate process. Probate lawyers provide legal advice to their clients on the best way to proceed depending on the circumstances of your particular case, draft necessary legal pleadings and filings, and advise their clients about the ongoing responsibilities of a fiduciary. If you are an executor to a Will, the probate attorney that you hire represents you in your capacity as executor and assists you in representing those for whom you are responsible.
Farren Sheehan in the Austin area is a licensed attorney familiar with the court procedures in the Travis County Probate Court and are available to assist you with any probate matters. Call office of Sheehan Law, PLLC with any questions you have regarding probate in Travis County, Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, or Cedar Park and we will be happy to set up a consultation to discuss.
If you have any questions about Texas probate law, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone at (512) 251-4553 for an initial consultation. Other contact information is listed in the upper right-hand area of this page, and a contact form is also available on our contact page.
- In re Guetersloh, 326 S.W.3d 737 (Tex. App. 2010)
- Texas Probate Passport, Texas Young Lawyers Association, 1986