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If you are reading this because a loved one recently passed, or is very ill, we extend our heartfelt sympathies. We hope that in some small way, having information about this difficult situation can help ease your worry just a tiny bit.
If a loved one has died due to Covid-19, or during this pandemic, you may be wondering what to do. Chances are you are already exhausted from worry and sorrow.
You may be in a situation that you feel is not an emergency. Perhaps you already have access to all of the accounts and property that this person owned. And you may already know which bills have to be paid to keep things going. You may have the means to pay those bills. There may be no question about your authority to take on this task, and all survivors may be in agreement. If so, and if there is no emergency, then you may be able to wait until this crisis is over to deal with property transfer. But be aware that any actions that you take during this time may have consequences. For instance, taking on debts of the estate personally or spending money that others may have a claim to as well may have legal consequences later on. If you are not absolutely certain about what to do, it is recommended that you speak with a Texas probate attorney.
You may be in a different situation. Perhaps you are the spouse or a dependent of the person who passed and you need emergency funds to live, but can’t get to them. You may need an emergency hearing. Probate courts in our area of Texas are holding hearings by telephone or video conference, so you don’t need to worry about the social distancing aspect. If you are in an emergency situation, a probate case can be filed and the probate judge will be notified that an emergency hearing is needed.
Many people probably fall somewhere in between the two examples above. Maybe it isn’t an emergency, but you can’t really wait too long, either. For those cases, a probate case can be prepared and filed now. Then when things are opened up again and back to “normal”, the hearing can be scheduled. You will have guidance about what to do in the meantime.
It is also important to understand that we don’t always recommend filing probate cases. Sometimes potential clients come to us for a consultation and we explain that a probate is not needed, and why. They may not need to do anything. Or, there may be other options under Texas law that are a bit simpler that the traditional probate case, but still get the job done.
The goal is to preserve the property of the estate, pay allowable debts and pass title or possession to the heirs.
You can get a legal consultation with a probate attorney to help understand all of your options. In order to assist our local community and Texas clients during this difficult time, we are offering free legal consultations for 20 minutes by phone or video conference. There is no obligation. You can also request this consultation if you live outside of Texas, but your deceased loved one was a Texas resident.
During your legal consult, be ready to tell the attorney whether or not the deceased person had a will. We realize, however, that you may not know, and you may not be able to get into their residence to search for a will at this time. That doesn’t matter, we can still give you some information to help you.
Contact us. Speak with a compassionate probate attorney to help you understand your options.