Misconceptions About Probates and Trusts

Jan 31, 2022 | Probate & Estates

If you are involved in the establishment of a trust or a will, you may hold some assumptions about the way they work. The probate and trust processes in Texas can be highly complex. As a result, many myths and misconceptions have appeared around wills and trusts.

These misconceptions can make it difficult for beneficiaries, trustees, trustors, and testators alike to understand their rights and responsibilities. Understanding the truth about these complex processes can make it simpler to navigate a trust or will—and advocate for your legal rights.

#1: Creating a Will or Testamentary Trust Can Help Avoid the Probate Process

Probate is the process of dividing a person’s assets after he or she is deceased. This process can be lengthy and involve several disputes along the way, depending on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s assets. Many people mistakenly believe that creating a will or a testamentary trust can help circumvent the probate process.

In reality, a will is the primary tool used in the probate system. The purpose of probate is to ensure that your assets are distributed according to the will. In the case of testamentary trusts, these structures hold property for a specific process and can only be invoked during probate. The testamentary trust itself is a part of the will.

#2: Probate Is a Fast Process

Probate can take a long time to reach a conclusion. There are many processes and activities that need to take place before the probate process ends, such as paying estate taxes and creditors, notifying heirs, and taking inventory of assets. While many people believe this process can take a few weeks, probate can take as long as eight to 12 months, even for a simple estate. 

#3: Living Trusts Are Only for Those with Lots of Assets

A living trust is a legal document created before a deceased person passes away. In this legal document, the deceased gives responsibility to a trustee to manage his or her assets on behalf of a beneficiary. This document enables easier transfer of assets while bypassing the lengthy and complex probate process.

Many people believe that individuals with lots of assets are the only parties who can create a living trust. The truth is that anyone who wants to avoid probate can create a living trust, even if their assets total $60,000 or less. 

#4: The Terms of a Living Trust Cannot Be Changed

You have the right to change to terms of a living trust at any time, as long as you have decision-making authority. You can even choose to revoke the living trust at any point. You have control over this financial relationship.

What to Do During a Trust or Will Dispute

During the course of administering a trust or carrying out a deceased person’s will, several disputes can arise. These financial matters can be highly sensitive and may need to go to court. Navigating this litigation can be difficult alone.

If you are facing a will or trust dispute in Texas, you need an attorney on your side. A Texas will contest attorney with experience handling high-stakes litigation can advocate for your best interests, helping you achieve your desired outcome in probate court or during trust negotiations. As soon as possible after a dispute arises, contact a Texas probate or trust litigation attorney to discuss your legal options.