ProbateThe trust that our clients have in us is never more evident than when one of their loved ones has passed away and we are assisting them through the probate and estate administration process. Our clients know that they have empathetic and compassionate counsel when they engage us to represent them in this emotion-charged transitional time. We have assisted hundreds of families as they navigate through the time after a family member passes and have provided direction toward the goals that the estate plan of their loved one sought to achieve.

Probate and estate administration can take many forms. Our clients typically seek the simplest and least expensive way to settle their family’s title issues, while minimizing estate and inheritance taxes. Complexity in achieving those goals can arise due to tax issues, defining what is in a person’s estate, blended family issues, inconsistent beneficiary designations, and verbal affirmations by a person who has passed away and who is no longer able to clarify what they may have said.

“When family tragedy strikes, we help clients manage the probate process and put the pieces of their life back together.”

A frequent goal our clients desire to achieve is minimization of tax as they work through the probate and estate administration process. Thankfully the federal estate tax estate exemption amount has been raised but, many of our clients still need to avoid this tax not only for the estate of the person passing away but also for subsequent generations. They trust our firm’s knowledge and experience to make decisions in the critical months following the passing of a family member to provide advice that minimizes current estate tax as well as estate tax in subsequent generations.

Our clients trust us not only to keep an eye on estate taxes, but also the income tax effect related to the decisions made during the estate administration process. Individual retirement accounts, various types of retirement plans, and annuities are some of the assets that have earned income during the lifetime of the account holder that has yet to be subjected to federal and state income tax. Our clients trust us to provide comprehensive advice as they make choices during the estate administration process that can save or defer hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxable income and income taxes.

Tax exposure is not the only risk that heirs face during and after a loved one passes away. We are there with them to listen to the unique challenges that all families face and to anticipate others that are not currently recognized.

We find that many people are in their second or third marriage so defining the character of the property in a person’s estate at the time of their passing can be a complex matter. When we find that a comprehensive estate plan is not in place and that definition of property does not easily exist, we use our vast legal knowledge and accounting experience to define, clarify and negotiate property characterization issues with our client’s best interest in mind.

Various marriages within a family may result in tension between surviving children and the surviving spouse. Our clients trust us to be able to discern and communicate their goals and objectives in ways that frequently pierce through the emotional stalemate that may have been created. As a result, we are able to achieve an agreement that serves all parties well. When an agreement cannot be reached, our clients know that we will aggressively protect their rights while sympathetically understanding that they may still be in the midst of an emotional grieving process.

Probate is not a “one size fits all” type of process.

 Our clients turn to us to guide them through the choices of what type of administration is needed as it relates to their specific circumstances. Having walked with clients through the estate administration process while navigating through the choices Texas law provides, we can provide each client with the appropriate advice on the simplest yet most effective procedures needed to achieve a client’s goal. Less experienced attorneys will often choose to advise a client on the only route they know. We know each client trusts us to choose the right probate procedure for their unique situation in order to achieve their goals as simply as possible while minimizing the expense and complexity. The diversity of our clients has resulted in assisting families in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as well as the various counties beyond the Metroplex. Since our clients frequently have assets in other counties or jurisdictions, our experience extends beyond the borders of Texas and even the United States.

“Dismuke & Waters can help you with your probate needs. Please contact us today.”

Clients have been depending upon us for probate and estate administration advice for over thirty years.