At the passing of a loved one, friends and family experience a wide range of emotions. Concern and confusion over how to handle the administration of the decedent’s estate may be among them. Is there a will? Is it a legal will? What happens to the assets? How do the bills get paid?
Here, we’ll give an overview of the process of probating a will in Texas, explaining the various steps and what to expect with each. This article is an overview of the will probate process only and is not a substitute for legal counsel.
Types of Probate
First, there are a few different ways to probate a will in the state of Texas. These include:
- Independent administration, when a will is provided and an executor is named;
- Dependent administration, in which no will is provided and the court appoints an administrator;
- Small Estate Affidavit, for cases where there is no will, the decedent’s estate is less than $50,000 in value, and no probate is necessary; and
- Muniment of Title, in which no administrator or executor is named, and administration of the will is done with a sworn statement and the will as evidence.
There are also instances where no probate is required, such as when all of the decedent’s property is held jointly with a right to survivorship.
Steps To Probate a Will in Texas
Probating a will in Texas involves the following steps:
- Filing the will with the probate court in the decedent’s home county.
- Posting a notice to the public, which will involve a two-week period during which the will can be contested.
- Next, the judge validates the will, legally recognizes the death of the decedent, and appoints the executor or administrator.
- The executor or administrator inventories the decedent’s assets.
- Beneficiaries are identified.
- Creditors are notified to collect on any debts left by the decedent.
- Any disputes are resolved by a probate court judge.
- Assets are distributed after debts, expenses, and disputes are resolved.
In some cases, this entire process can be completed fairly quickly, often within a few months. In other cases, however, it could take much longer, especially if the estate is large or there are any disputes with respect to the will.
Need for Legal Assistance
To reduce the stress of probating a will and to make sure everything is done properly and to the letter of the law, you will need an attorney. The probate attorneys at Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner, PC, can provide you with the assistance you need to probate a will in Texas.