What to Expect from a Probate Lawyer: A Comprehensive Guide to the Probate Process

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Dealing with the death of a loved one is an emotionally taxing experience. In addition to the grief and loss, many legal matters often need to be addressed, particularly concerning the distribution of the deceased’s estate.

This is where a probate lawyer becomes an invaluable asset. If you are in Plano, TX, and seeking guidance through the probate process, GJ Chavez & Associates is here to help. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss what you can expect from a probate lawyer and the probate process in general.

What is Probate?

Before diving into the specifics of what a probate lawyer does, it’s essential to understand what probate is. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is settled. This process includes validating the will (if one exists), paying off any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. In Texas, probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, making it crucial to have knowledgeable legal support.

Why You Need a Probate Lawyer

A probate lawyer, also known as an estate attorney, specializes in guiding executors and beneficiaries through the probate process. They provide legal advice, handle paperwork, and represent you in court if necessary. Here’s why having a probate lawyer from GJ Chavez & Associates can make a significant difference:

  1. Expertise in Texas Probate Law: Probate laws vary from state to state. A probate lawyer in Plano, TX, will have a deep understanding of Texas probate law, ensuring that all legal requirements are met.
  2. Efficiency: Navigating probate can be time-consuming. A probate lawyer can streamline the process, saving you time and reducing stress.
  3. Avoiding Mistakes: Legal paperwork can be complicated. A probate lawyer ensures that all documents are correctly completed and submitted on time, preventing costly errors.
  4. Conflict Resolution: Disputes among beneficiaries are common. A probate lawyer can mediate conflicts and represent your interests in court if necessary.

What to Expect from a Probate Lawyer in Plano, TX

When you engage the services of a probate lawyer from GJ Chavez & Associates, here’s what you can expect:

Initial Consultation

The first step is an initial consultation. During this meeting, the probate lawyer will gather information about the deceased’s estate, including assets, debts, and any existing will. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and understand what the probate process will entail.

Assessing the Will

If there is a will, the probate lawyer will review it to ensure its validity. This involves checking for signatures, witnesses, and any potential challenges to the will’s legitimacy. If there is no will, the estate will be considered “intestate,” and the probate lawyer will explain how Texas laws dictate the distribution of assets in such cases.

Filing the Probate Petition

The next step is to file a petition for probate with the appropriate Texas court. This petition formally starts the probate process and involves notifying beneficiaries and creditors about the proceedings. The probate lawyer will handle all the necessary paperwork and ensure that deadlines are met.

Inventorying the Estate

One of the probate lawyer’s critical tasks is to create a comprehensive inventory of the deceased’s assets. This includes real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and any other assets. The lawyer will also identify and evaluate any debts or liabilities.

Managing and Protecting Assets

During the probate process, it is crucial to manage and protect the estate’s assets. This might involve securing property, maintaining insurance, and ensuring that valuable items are appraised and safeguarded. A probate lawyer ensures that these tasks are carried out efficiently.

Paying Debts and Taxes

One of the essential duties of a probate lawyer is to ensure that all outstanding debts and taxes are paid. This includes final income taxes, estate taxes, and any other liabilities. The lawyer will work with creditors and tax authorities to settle these matters, ensuring that beneficiaries receive their rightful inheritance without unexpected liabilities.

Distributing the Estate

Once debts and taxes are settled, the probate lawyer will oversee the distribution of the remaining assets according to the will or state law if there is no will. This involves transferring titles, closing accounts, and ensuring that all beneficiaries receive their designated share.

Closing the Estate

The final step in the probate process is closing the estate. The probate lawyer will prepare a final accounting of all transactions and present it to the court for approval. Once the court approves, the estate is officially closed, and the probate process is complete.

Benefits of Hiring GJ Chavez & Associates as Your Probate Lawyer

Choosing GJ Chavez & Associates as your probate lawyer in Plano, TX, offers several advantages:

  1. Personalized Attention: At GJ Chavez & Associates, you are not just another case. The firm takes pride in offering personalized attention, ensuring that your unique needs and concerns are addressed.
  2. Experienced Team: With years of experience in Texas probate law, the attorneys at GJ Chavez & Associates have the expertise to handle even the most complex probate cases.
  3. Compassionate Support: Dealing with the loss of a loved one is challenging. The team at GJ Chavez & Associates provides compassionate support, helping you navigate the probate process with sensitivity and care.
  4. Transparent Communication: Clear and transparent communication is a hallmark of GJ Chavez & Associates. You will always be informed about the progress of your case and any developments that arise.

Frequently Asked Questions About Probate in Plano, TX

How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

The duration of the probate process can vary significantly based on the complexity of the estate and whether any disputes arise. On average, probate in Texas can take anywhere from six months to a year, but more complicated cases can extend beyond this timeframe.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

In some cases, probate can be avoided through proper estate planning. Tools such as living trusts, joint ownership, and beneficiary designations can help bypass the probate process. A probate lawyer from GJ Chavez & Associates can advise you on the best strategies for your situation.

What If There Is No Will?

If there is no will, the estate is considered intestate, and Texas state law dictates how the assets are distributed. A probate lawyer will guide you through this process, ensuring that the estate is settled according to legal requirements.

What Are the Costs Involved in Probate?

The costs of probate can include court fees, attorney fees, appraisal fees, and other administrative expenses. These costs are typically paid out of the estate. During the initial consultation, your probate lawyer can provide an estimate of the potential costs involved.

What Happens If a Will Is Contested?

If a will is contested, it means that someone is challenging the validity of the will. This can lead to a prolonged legal battle. A probate lawyer will represent your interests in court, providing evidence to support the validity of the will and resolving disputes among beneficiaries.


The probate process can be intricate and overwhelming, but with the assistance of a skilled probate lawyer from GJ Chavez & Associates, you can navigate it with confidence. From the initial consultation to the final distribution of assets, a probate lawyer provides invaluable support and expertise. If you are in Plano, TX, and need assistance with probate, don’t hesitate to reach out to GJ Chavez & Associates. They are dedicated to helping you through every step of the process, ensuring that your loved one’s estate is handled with care and professionalism.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact GJ Chavez & Associates today. Let their experienced team guide you through the probate process, providing the support and peace of mind you need during this challenging time.

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We are committed to providing each client with attentive and responsive legal solutions. As Christians, we deeply care about our fellow man and our mission is to act as faithful servants to those in need. We will listen to your story, thoroughly review the circumstances of your case, and determine all available legal options to get the best possible results. Not only do we offer payment plans and even free services on a case-by-case basis, but we also perform pro-bono work through Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.

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