The state of Texas is a probate state, meaning that a personal estate must go through the probate process after a person’s death. Probate is the means by which the state legally recognizes a person’s death, and approves the disbursement of their estate. It is a course of action that can be lengthy and complex; so seeking the help of probate lawyers from a respected wills and probate law firm can help make the procedure less confusing. Probate attorneys understand how the probate process works and the correct distribution of assets depending on whether there is or is not a will. Following are some aspects to consider about the Texas probate process.
Texas Estates Code – Probate law in Texas is outlined in the Texas Estates Code that provides a list of the steps that must be taken for the legal disbursement of an estate dependent on whether or not there is a legal will. Law firms that handle wills and probate advise that an estate generally must go through the probate process before any assets can be disbursed to a family. This process is designed to determine the rightful ownership of assets, and whether any debt is owed by the deceased that must be paid before assets can be distributed.
Wills, Heirs, and Estate Administrators – The first part of the probate process is establishing if there is a will and if so, whether that will is valid. If there is no will, or the existing will is not valid, the court must then determine the decedent’s legal heirs. The court then assigns an executor, or estate administrators, to work with experienced probate attorneys hired by the family to assist in the process. These acting administrators fulfill court requirements so that the probate process can begin.
Assets Inventory and Debt Determination – The estate administrator prepares an inventory of assets. This list of property owned by the deceased is then presented to the court. Probate lawyers must file this list with the court within 90 days of the assignment as the estate executor or administrator.
Debt Determination and Notice to Creditors – The next step is the determination of any outstanding debt left by the decedent, which must be paid from estate assets. The Estate Administrator must publish a public notice to any creditors of the estate, which is done in a local newspaper within the county overseeing the probate process. This notice informs any creditors owed money by the decedent that they can file a claim against the estate. Once any outstanding debt has been resolved, the court begins the process of disbursing remaining assets to heirs, based either on what a legal will states or on the court’s determination of how the estate should be divided and disbursed.
Most people are a bit intimidated by the probate process, as it is time-consuming and involves the determination of a will, legal heirs, and any claims made against estate assets. It also involves the liquidation of property, if necessary, to pay any debtor claims. It is important for family members to seek the services of a law firm that works extensively with wills and probate to represent them throughout the probate process. Experienced probate attorneys can perform all duties required of an estate administrator and help simplify the distribution of estate assets for surviving family members.
Watson Law Firm
1450 Copperfield Pkwy #300
College Station TX 77845