FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROBATE PROCESS
July 12, 2022
When a person dies in Texas, their will – if available – and the estate must pass through the probate process to administer the decedent's estate and settle their final affairs. During probate, the deceased person's assets are collected and evaluated, debts and taxes are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the rightful inheritors. An experienced Texas estate planning attorney can answer some of your frequently asked questions regarding the probate process and help you navigate key decisions.
Attorney Chelsea Redding at the Redding Law Office has devoted her career to offering outstanding legal services and guiding clients through the complexities of probate. She's available to discuss your unique situation and enlighten you about the Texas probate process, as well as what to expect. Using her extensive knowledge, Attorney Chelsea Redding can attempt to preserve your family assets and protect your legacy. The firm is proud to serve clients across Southlake, Tarrant County, and Denton County, as well as the surrounding cities of Flower Mound, Keller, and Colleyville, Texas.
FAQs about the Texas Probate Process
If a Decedent Left a Will, Does the Estate Still Need to go Through Probate?
Every state has specific statutes and procedures addressing probate. In Texas, when a decedent leaves a will, it must be submitted in court. Also, you can only implement the provisions of the last will and testament through probate. Only an estate with no real property, no accounts, no debts, and no contests can actually bypass the probate process. To avoid probate, you may consider creating a living trust.
What Happens if the Decedent Dies Without a Will?
If a person dies intestate in Texas – dying without a will – the decedent's assets will pass through intestate succession. The Texas court will appoint an executor who will distribute the estate to close relatives in accordance with Texas intestate succession laws. However, if the person is unmarried with no surviving heirs or dependents, their estate – assets and property – will pass to the State of Texas.
What is the Role of the Personal Representative in the Probate Process?
A personal representative or executor is appointed by the probate court to oversee the probate process. Once appointed, the personal representative will do the following:
Identify and gather all the decedent's probate assets
Evaluate and determine the exact value of each asset
Locate important documents, such as account statements, real estate titles, insurance policies, and retirement plans
Notify heirs and beneficiaries about probate through formal written notices
Publish a notice in the local newspaper to notify creditors about the probate process
Collect all decedent's income, including claims, interests, rents, dividends, and debts owed
Pay the valid claims to creditors and recognize the rights of others
Keep all the decedent's assets safe throughout the probate process
Settle taxes and Pay debts to creditors
File tax returns and pay estate taxes
Prepare and file the decedent's final income tax returns
Distribute the remaining assets to rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
The personal representative or executor has a fiduciary duty to handle, preserve, and protect the estate assets during the probate proceedings.
What if the Estate is Small? Does it Still Need to go Through Probate?
However, not all assets must pass through probate in Texas. There is a simplified probate process for small estates if the estate's value is $75,000 or less, excluding homestead and exempt property. Inheritors will need to prepare an out-of-court affidavit to inherit the property.
On What Grounds Can Someone Challenge the Validity of a Will?
Under Texas law – Texas Probate Code Section 93 – an interested party may be able to legally dispute the validity of a will by filing a formal lawsuit on any of the following grounds:
Lack of testamentary capacity
Fraudulent inducement or forgery
However, the last will and testament must be officially contested within two years from the date that it was admitted into probate.
How a Probate Attorney Can Assist with the Process
In the state of Texas, a will must pass through the probate process to establish its validity before asset distribution can take place. However, going through probate following the death of a loved one can be difficult and may involve several complexities. Therefore, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial for detailed guidance and to assist you with the probate process.
Attorney Chelsea Redding is poised, dedicated, and fully prepared to answer your various questions and concerns about the estate planning and probate process in Texas. As your attorney, she has the resources to guide you through the entire probate process and can present reliable advocacy in your estate administration matters.
Contact Redding Law Office today to schedule a simple consultation with an experienced probate lawyer. Attorney Chelsea Redding has the brilliant advocacy and detailed legal counsel you need on all estate planning and probate matters. The firm proudly serves clients across Southlake, Tarrant County, and Denton County, as well as the surrounding cities of Flower Mound, Keller, and Colleyville, Texas.