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Probating is the legal process of transferring property following a person's death. You'll receive the letters of testamentary or letters of administration that you need in order to recover estate assets. It also helps you transfer title on real property. Probating customs and laws have changed over time, the purpose of probating has remained much the same: an individual formalizes their intentions as to the transfer of their property at the time of their death (typically through a Will), their property is collected, certain debts are paid from the estate and the property is distributed accordingly.


The spouse generally has a life estate to protect her regardless of the wishes of the Will and intestate proceedings (No Will). Unfortunately, children of decedents are only protected in intestate proceedings and not when a Will does not include them. However, you can contest a Will under several grounds such as mistake or undue influence.


An illegitimate child (one born out of wedlock) can inherit from his or her natural mother and vice versa when either dies without a will. By contrast, the illegitimate child cannot inherit from the natural father or the father's family members who die without a will, except upon the occurrence of one of certain specified events, including:

The father consents in writing to be named as the child's father on the child's birth certificate.

Paternity is established in a paternity suit brought generally before the child's twentieth birthday.

The father legally adopts the child.

The father voluntarily signs a written notarized statement of paternity acknowledging that the child is his.

After the child's birth, the father marries the biological mother and either signs a written acknowledgment of paternity, consents to be named and is named as the child's father on the birth certificate, or is obligated under a written voluntary promise or by court order to support the child.
After the father's death, the probate court determines that the father was the child's biological father.

This means that even if a father maintains ties with his illegitimate child, that child will not inherit from him if he dies without a will, except under limited circumstances such as those discussed above.
The stepchild does not inherit from a stepparent who dies without a will because he or she is not considered to be legally related to that stepparent. This is unfortunate where the stepchild was raised by a natural parent and/or a stepparent. A stepchild can inherit from a stepparent who dies without a will only if the stepparent adopted the stepchild or if the stepchild proves in court the existence of a written or oral agreement to adopt which was not executed. This latter method often is used when foster parents do not adopt a child even though they had an agreement with the natural parent(s) that they would adopt.

Children of the Half-Blood
Half-blood children share the same natural mother or father, but not the same two natural parents. A half-blood child inherits only half as much as a whole blood child. For example, if a decedent's only heirs are a half-blood brother or sister and a whole blood brother or sister, the half-blood heir takes one-third of the estate and the whole blood heir takes two-thirds.

After-Born or After-Adopted Children
After-born or after-adopted children are children who are born to or adopted by a person after he or she executed a will in which such children were not provided for or mentioned at all. After-born or after-adopted children in this situation inherit only under limited circumstances, so it is best to execute a new will or an amendment to the existing will to provide for the after-born or after-adopted children.


A Will Contest is a type of litigation that challenges the admission of a Will to probate. Issues that are likely to spur the contesting of a Will include:

the testator lacked mental capacity; i.e., was senile, delusional, or of unsound mind at the time the documents were created the testator was subjected to fraud, coercion or undue influence during its creation and implementation there are ambiguities in the document, or the Will is a forgery or does not conform to legal requirements as to the number and nature of the witnesses.
If the Will is thrown out, the court may disallow only the part of the Will that was challenged or throw out the entire Will of the decedent, distributing the property as if the person died without a Will, or use the last previous Will, depending on state law and the specific facts and circumstances.


Trusts are estate-planning tools that can replace or supplement Wills, as well as help manage property during life. A trust manages the distribution of a person's property by transferring its benefits and obligations to different people. By maintaining assets in a Trust, it is often easier to minimize taxes and leave a larger inheritance. A Trust is also a way to provide a steady income to the Beneficiary over the course of time, rather than distribution in a lump sum. This strategy can reduce the Beneficiary's tax and allow the Trust to grow through investment, and keep assets free from creditors of the Trust beneficiary. Trusts can also be established for the benefit of charitable organizations.


If you need help with a loved one's estate when there was no will, we can help.

Without a will:

- Your spouse or children or other family members may share in your estate in ways undesirable to you.

- Your children will share equally regardless of needs

- Orphaned Minors will have a guardian appointed by the court that you could have chosen yourself through a will.

- Friends, charities, etc., ……….get nothing.

To be sure your will is valid you can consult with me because there are:

- Specific requirements of language and execution for a will to be valid
Taxation minimizing issues.

- Property transfer laws: problems can be avoided with professional help.


Real Estate (your home, land, etc.)
Investments (cash, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, CDs, etc.)
Business Ownership Interests
Personal Property (jewelry, art, antiques, etc.,)
Life Insurance
Employee Benefits (pension plans, etc.)


You can choose who you want to manage the disbursement of your estate which includes your Spouse, Relative, Friend, Partner, Professional, and also Coexecutors are possibleThe executor takes control of all your assets, pays your bills that are owed and pays your owed taxes, collects money owed to the estate, distributes your property. He or she should be someone you trust who is willing and can perform all these services.


To minimize estate and/or inheritance taxes, plan ahead. Discuss various ways of distributing your estate to reduce taxes. For example:
Giving Gifts over a period of years.

Setting up Trusts for children, elderly parents, etc


Ownership: is your property jointly owned or owned by you alone?
Should ownership form be changed?

Minor Children: your will should name a GUARDIAN to take care of children if they're orphaned.

You should provide for a financial plan for orphaned children
Trustee: If you set up a trust, you'll have to choose someone to manage it (for example, your spouse, a friend, a bank trust officer or a lawyer).

Funeral Arrangements

A Will Must be....

Signed by you, the testator.
Witnessed by 2 or 3 people requirement in most states. You need not disclose contents of the will to them.


For more information contact the law firm of Nicholas Abaza by calling 713-965-3400 or click here to send us an Email.
Probate Attorney Nick Abaza

Houston Attorney, Nick Abaza specializes in Probate including Wills, Estate Administration, Probate Litigation and Estate Litigation. Mr. Abaza is licensed to practice in Texas and is happy to handle your Probate and Estate needs. Contact him today at 713-965-3400 for a free consultation.

Besides administrations I do litigation in following areas:

Will Challenge
Trust Litigation
Inheritance Fight
Breach of Fiduciary Duty Litigation
Abuse of Power of Attorney
Executor Challenges
Administration Challenges
Search for lost assets
Distributing Assets from a Administration or Will


Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person, specifically resolving all claims and distributing the decedent's property.



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