What Is Probate?

Probate is the process used by the Texas court system to determine whether or not a will is valid.

What Is The Probate Process?

In Texas, the probate process is the legal process used to dispose of a person’s assets upon their passing. If a will has been written, in general, it includes: 1) submitting the will to the court having jurisdiction over the probate proceeding to determine whether or not it is valid (commonly called “submitting the will to probate”); once approved by the court, 2) appointing an Executor to dispose of the Testator’s property according to the terms of the will; 3) gathering the Testator’s property and identifying it; 4) paying and collecting any debts of the Testator’s estate at the time of his or her passing; 5) paying any taxes owed by the estate; and 6) distributing any remaining property to the heirs as listed in the will. If no will has been left, then these same steps will be taken, except the process will be called an “estate administration”, and the court will appoint an Administrator of the estate upon proper application for administration of the estate to the court. In an administration process, the decedent’s estate is handled according to Texas law, as opposed to according to a will.

Different Types of Probate

Before initiating the probate process, you should speak with a Texas probate attorney about what type of probate process works for your circumstances. In Texas, the law has provided a few ways in which a decedent’s estate may be disposed of. They are: 1) Independent Administration; 2) Dependent Administration; 3) Muniment of Title. Your attorney will be able to describe each of these processes and inform you as to which is best for your particular circumstance. Each of these is relatively easy to start, as Texas has one of the easiest processes to dispose of a deceased’s property; however, it is best to navigate this process utilizing an attorney who practices in this area, and we can help.

Alternatives To The Probate Process

In a few instances, under Texas law, a decedent’s estate is so small that a formal probate process is not necessary as outlined above. In these cases, Texas law has provided the following alternatives to dispose of a decedent’s property that you may utilize if the decedent’s estate meets the criterion outlined in the law: 1) Small Estate Affidavit; 2) Affidavit of Heirship; 3) Judicial Determination of Heirship. We can explain each of these in greater detail as is necessary upon hearing the facts of your circumstances.

Avoiding The Probate Process

Although the probate process is relatively easy in Texas as compared to other states, Texas law has provided a few methods through which persons may distribute their assets without the need to begin the probate/administration process: 1) Revocable Living Trust; 2) Payable on death accounts; 3) Right of survivorship accounts. Also, non-probate assets, such as insurance policies, are disposed of according to their terms rather than through the probate process. We will be happy to discuss these probate alternatives with you upon assessing the facts of your circumstances.