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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13498
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Prior to my fathers death, we were talking about his will,

Customer Question

Prior to my fathers death, we were talking about his will, unfortunately his sudden passing left me and my sister guessing where or whom he left the will with. Now, his company is asking me to go to court to request for a letters testamentary to claim for his retirement benifits which he failed to assign a beneficiary.
If he really did have a will, how will I be able to get a hold of it?
Please advice.
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in?
Customer: Oh, im sorry, In Houston Texas
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: Yea but only informally and I asked him if I needed to go back to Houston since I live in California and he required me to give him 3 names and nmbers of my dads closest friends to identfy him.
JA: What advice did they give you?
Customer: Just to give him the names of my dads friends and the payment and he would be handling the rest. I was a little uncomfortable with how he instructed me maybe because I lived so far away.
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: My father did not leave a house, he owned a truck which he still paid monthly. How do i go about transferring the mortgage of the truck? He also has bank accounts which required me what his company wa srequiring to submit too.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to helping you. My sincerest condolences on your loss, first of all.

Unfortunately, Texas, like most every other state, doesn't require the filing of a Will until after a person has passed away. Therefore, the only way a family typically learns about one, if the deceased says they had one but never told you specifically where it was, is by going through the household paperwork and looking for it. Sometimes, you might find a letter or business card from a lawyer that you can contact to see if they have it. Alternatively if you know who his lawyer was, you can reach out to them --sometimes (though it's not common practice anymore) the lawyer will hand onto a Last Will and Testament for a client.

If you cannot find the Will, then your father will be considered to have died "intestate", and his estate would pass according to Texas law, which may or may not reflect what his true intentions were.

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Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 11 months ago.

With respect to the tuck, contact the lender and tell them that you want to assume the payments (I think that's what you're asking to do). I had to do this with a vehicle following my mom's passing. If it's anything like what I had to do, it was a straight and easy process -I had to fill out some basic paperwork about her death, provide a death certificate, and include a check for a "transfer fee."

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ok so going to court and getting a letters testamentary will be sufficient enough for us to be able to claim his retirement benefits even if I am his next of kin? Do i have any other options?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 11 months ago.

There may be an easier way. Getting Letters Testamentary (also called "Letters of Administration") would involve petitioning the court to open a probate estate and to be appointed executor, and going through the entire probate process even after the Letters are issued following your appointment as executor. It's expensive and time consuming.

Texas has a small estate affidavit procedure that can be used when a person died without a will, has been gone at least 30 days, and whose estate's total value, excluding real property, is $50,000 or less. Essentially, you would fill out this affidavit in the county where he passed away, include a death certificate, and pay a filing fee, and once the judge signs the Order, you can use it to claim and distribute the assets in accordance with Texas probate law.

Here's what the estate affidavit looks like in Travis County. Other counties will use similar forms, but you'd want to contact the Clerk of Court in that county to see how to get them, or check their court website.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 11 months ago.

I see that you have not left a positive rating for me yet. Was there something I could clarify for you about my answer, or additional information you needed? If so, please let me know. I'm here to help!

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