Skip to navigation
Probate sign, stack of papers and gavel

Probate Terms to Know 

Redding Law Office June 8, 2023

Going through probate can seem overwhelming and daunting, especially considering that you may encounter a number of terms that you have never heard before. For this reason, understanding the meaning of probate terms can make the process more straightforward.  

If you need help with the probate process, contact Redding Law Office. With an office in Southlake, Texas, Attorney Chelsea Redding serves Denton County and Tarrant County, as well as the surrounding cities of Colleyville, Flower Mound, and Keller. She has everything necessary to assist your specific situation while keeping your best interests in mind.  

Probate in Texas

Probate in Texas is the court-supervised process of settling someone’s estate after they pass away. This means ensuring that their property is distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries and that any outstanding debts or taxes are paid.  

There are two main types of probate in Texas:  

  • Independent administration is the most common, and it allows the executor or administrator of the estate to handle most matters without court intervention; and  

  • Dependent administration involves more court supervision and is used when there are disputes or complications. 

You will need to seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney if you want to learn more about the probate process in Texas.  

Probate Terms to Know

Whether you were appointed to serve as the executor/administrator of someone’s estate or you have recently lost a loved one and are awaiting probate, there are at least a dozen of key probate terms to know:  

  1. Administrator. An administrator is someone who is appointed by the court to manage the affairs of the estate when there is no will. This person takes on many of the same responsibilities as an executor would, but is subject to slightly different laws and regulations.  

  1. Beneficiary. A beneficiary is someone who is entitled to receive assets from the estate, either through a will or through intestate succession. This person can be an individual or an organization. 

  1. Creditor claim. A creditor claim is a debt owed by the estate to a third party (e.g., outstanding debts such as credit card bills or mortgages). These claims must be paid out of the estate before any beneficiaries can receive their inheritance. 

  1. Executor. An executor is a person named in a will to manage the affairs of the estate. This includes gathering and valuing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.  

  1. Fiduciary duty. A fiduciary duty is a legal obligation that an executor or administrator has to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. This includes following the terms of the will and making decisions that are fair and transparent. 

  1. Guardianship. Guardianship refers to the legal appointment of a guardian to care for a minor child or person who is unable to care for themselves. This can become necessary if the child’s parents are deceased or otherwise unfit, or if an adult becomes incapacitated due to illness or injury. 

  1. Intestate succession. Intestate succession refers to the process by which the assets of an estate are distributed when there is no will. The state’s laws of intestacy determine who is entitled to receive what, based on familial relationships and other criteria. 

  1. Probate account. A probate account, commonly referred to as an estate account, is a special bank account that is opened specifically to manage the assets of the estate. This account is used to keep track of all expenses and income related to the estate and is subject to oversight by the court. 

  1. Testate. Testate refers to the situation where the deceased had a valid will at the time of their death.  

  1. Capacity. Capacity refers to a person’s ability to make decisions about their own affairs. In probate, it is important to establish that the deceased had the capacity to create a valid will or trust at the time it was executed. 

  1. Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to make decisions in a particular case. In probate, this refers to which court has jurisdiction over the estate based on where the deceased lived or where the majority of the assets are located. 

  1. Will contest. A will contest is a legal proceeding pursued to challenge the validity of a will. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, or fraud. 

These are not the only terms you may encounter during the probate process. Contact an attorney at Redding Law Office to get the assistance you need at every step of probate in Texas.  

Redding Law Office Can Help You Through Probate

Attorney Chelsea Redding provides reliable legal advice and guidance throughout the probate process. Reach out to Redding Law Office to get assistance with any of your probate-related concerns. Get in touch today to discuss your situation.