Texas probate is simpler as compared to other states. The independent administration of estates is the reason behind this. With the help of this procedure, most Texas executors can rest assured that the estates would be wrapped up with very little court supervision.
Probate is the process of recognizing the death of a person and winding up their estate. It can either be simple or complicated, depending on the complexity of the estate and its size. However, the process can be overwhelming for people that do not hire a lawyer. It is vital to hire a professional attorney such as a Corpus Christi TX probate attorney to help you navigate the process of probate and ensure that your best interests are protected.
The 8 Steps of Texas Probate
There are 8 steps involved in the process of probate in Texas. These are better explained below to provide you with an idea of what to expect.
Step 1 – Application Filing
The first step of the process of probate is the file an application. It is typically filed where the deceased used to reside.
Step 2 – Posting
Once the application for probate has been filed, there would be a 14 days waiting period until the hearing. The clerk of the specific county would have a notice posted at the courthouse during this time to state the probate application has been filed so that any party that might want to contest the estate’s administration and that of the will. The court handling the probate case will proceed with the administration if no contests have been received.
Step 3 – Validation of the Will
A probate judge in Texas would preside over the hearing once the waiting period has ended. He or she would recognize the death of the decedent legally. It is during this hearing that the judge handling the probate case would verify if there is will that is valid or if there is no will at all. Finally, the judge will verify the person’s names as the executor or will appoint an administrator.
Step 4 – Assets Cataloguing
Once the administrator or executor has been considered for the estate, he or she would catalog all of the assets that had been held by the estate and report to the county clerk within a period of 3 months (90 days) from the appointment. An inventory, claims list, and appraisement must be prepared by the executor and sworn for being accurate.
Essentially, it consists of all the properties in the estate. It has to be prepared carefully and should include complete and clear explanations of the different estate assets along with their reasonable valuation. The details depend on the following.
- Complications in the estate.
- If there is a question regarding asset values or ownership by creditors or beneficiaries.
- All other variables.
Step 5 – Identification of Beneficiaries
If there is a will that is valid and it is left by the decedent, the executor would notify all the estate beneficiaries. However, if no will has been filed, then the Texas Probate Court would determine the heirs. It can be difficult to do so. With the help of a professional probate attorney, the parties that have an interest in the estate would have a proceeding filed to establish their right as an heir.
The application must be signed by all heirs or it can be served individually. If there are any unknown heirs, the notice would be posted in the prescribed newspapers by the court, along with the courthouse. Oral and written testimony might be required.
An expert representative on behalf of deceased or a secured creditor is also allowed to initiate the proceedings as a party who has an interest, besides the heirs.
Step 6 -Notification to Creditors
Usually, decedents have debts when they pass away. These have to be paid out of the estate. For instance, these include household expenses, mortgages and medical bills. The estate executor will notify the creditors of the decedent’s death and they will be provided a chance to file a claim. The notice that is sent is accompanied by a publishing of the notice in a Texas newspaper to the creditors.
Step 7 – Dispute Resolution
If a family member or any other beneficiary is contesting for the estate in Texas, the estate cannot be finalized. Similarly, if they filed any related grievances, the estate cannot be finalized. A judge dealing in probate cases will hear these disputes.
It is an emotional situation to probate a Testament and Will as it can cause lots of family issues. It is required that a will has to be contested within a period of 24 months after the finalization of the original probate in the state of Texas. Whether if you are a complainant or not, it is crucial to have a legal representative who will guide you throughout the entire process.
Furthermore, the will must be proven invalid by anyone who is contesting the will or that there is an issue with it. This can be done through various ways.
- By proving that there was more than one will that had been executed.
- Showing that the will had been improperly executed.
- The will had been forced with excessive influence.
- The will had been forged.
Most people that contest will in the state of Texas do not opt for court since mediation tends to sometimes offer a better alternative action to resolve the conflict with a Texas probate. However, for one to seek justice, court settlement might be the only option.
Step 8 – Distribution of Assets
Once all of the debts have been resolved and the disputes have cleared up, the remaining assets would be given to each beneficiary.
Types of Texas Probate
There are two types of formal probate in Texas and some other simpler transfer procedures.
- Independent Administration of Estates: It is quick and simple, not to mention less expensive.
- Dependent Administration of Estates: It is less common as the executors would request for a dependent administration to ensure that there is greater court supervision.
- Muniment of Title: When there is a will, this simple process can be used to transfer estate assets.
- Small Estate Affidavits: A simple affidavit can be prepared by those that inherit the property if the total value of the probate estate is either $75,000 or less.
- Small Estate Procedures: It can be used if the property value does not exceed the amount needed to be paid to certain creditors and the family allowance.