When a loved one dies in Texas, their estate must go through a legal process called probate in order to be distributed to their heirs. This process can be confusing and overwhelming for families, so it is important to know what to expect.
The Steps to Take When Going Through Probate in Texas
- Step 1: FILING THE WILL
The probate process begins with filing the deceased’s will with the appropriate probate court. The will contains the deceased’s wishes for how their estate should be divided amongst their heirs. Filing the will in court will kick start the probate process, which is the legal procedure in Texas. If the deceased did not have a will, their assets would be distributed according to state law. This person is considered to have died “intestate.”
- Step 2: POSTING A NOTICE OF PROBATE
In Texas, there is a specific procedure that must be followed when posting a notice of probate. First, the notice must be published in a local newspaper, and it must include information about how creditors can submit their claims. Secondly, after filing the will, there will be a two-week delay for the application to be heard in court. During this two-week period, the county clerk posts a notice at the courthouse notifying anybody who wants to oppose the will or the estate’s administration to do so. The will probate can begin if the probate court receives no objections after the two-week period.
- Step 3: VALIDATING THE WILL
The next step is validation of the will. The probate court will review the will and make sure that it is valid – that it was made by the deceased person and that they had the legal authority to make it. Will validation also means that the court will make sure that the will was properly executed and is consistent with Texas probate law. If everything is in order, the court will issue an order confirming the will and its executor. The executor is responsible for taking care of the deceased person’s estate and making sure it is distributed according to their wishes. If the will does not name an executor, or if there are any problems (such as a lack of mental capacity or death), then the court will appoint an administrator to probate the estate.
- Step 4: IDENTIFYING AND CATALOGING ASSETS
This step involves the executor. The executor is tasked with identifying and cataloging the deceased person’s assets. This includes both assets that are owned by the deceased person and were not mentioned in the will and any property that they may have been bequeathed in their will. It is important to identify all of the assets in order to determine who is responsible for paying any debts that the estate may owe. Once all of the assets have been identified, an inventory should be created listing each asset, its value, who owns it, and who may lay claim to it (e.g. a creditor).
- Step 5: DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS
Once there is a clear understanding of the estate’s assets and liabilities, the next step is to begin the distribution of assets. If there are debts or taxes owed, the executor will likely need to liquidate some assets and pay off these liabilities. Once that’s done, the remaining property can be distributed according to the wishes of the deceased. If there are any questions or disputes, they will need to be resolved before the estate can be fully distributed.
What are the Probate Fees in Texas?
Generally, executors and administrators can expect to pay around $300 in court fees depending on the county in which they are filing. However, there are also fees for the service of process and inventory preparation. Other costs that are associated with probate include attorney fees, executor’s fees, and courier fees.
While the court costs are mostly fixed, all other costs are widely variable and depend on a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of the estate, whether there was a valid will or not, a will dispute, etc. Our law firm offers competitive rates and we would be happy to help you through the process. You may contact us today for more information about probate and probate fees in Texas.
What are the Probate Deadlines in Texas?
In Texas, probate proceedings must be commenced within four years of the date of the decedent’s death. However, this deadline is not absolute, and the court may extend it for good cause shown. Section 256.003 of the Texas Probate Code sets out a number of factors that the court must consider in determining whether to extend the deadline.
Do All Texas Estates Go Through Probate?
In Texas, if the value of an estate is $75,000 or less (excluding the value of the homestead and other exempt property), the estate does not have to go through a lengthy probate process. This is because Texas has a small estate affidavit that allows for an estate to be transferred without going through the standard probate process. The small estate affidavit can be used if the decedent did not have a will or if the will does not name an executor. The small estate affidavit must be filed within thirty days of the death of the decedent. In addition, the heirs of the decedent must agree to sign the affidavit.
There are also a variety of estate planning tools and techniques that can be used to avoid probate, including trusts, limited liability companies, and partnerships, among others. These are active steps taken during one’s lifetime to ensure that loved ones do not go through the probate process when a person passes away.
Speak to an Experienced Texas Estate Planning Attorney
In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the probate process in Texas and what to expect. By knowing what to expect, you can be better prepared and make the process as smooth as possible for your loved ones. If you have any questions or need assistance with the probate process, please contact a Kazi Law Firm attorney.