Texas probate law is a set of regulations that dictate how the assets of a deceased person are to be collected and distributed. All of the estate's assets must be gathered and any remaining debts must be paid off before the estate can be distributed according to a will or, if there is no will, in accordance with Texas intestate succession laws. After all debts and taxes have been paid, the assets remaining in the estate will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the will or state law. When a person is married or has children, the assets will be divided between the spouse and the children.
If there is no spouse or children, then the assets will be distributed to other close relatives such as parents and siblings. To begin the process, someone must file the will and a request to legalize the will as a document of title with the probate court. If the court decides that there is no need for estate administration, it admits the will in the estate as an attachment, or proof, of title to the estate of the estate. This serves as a document that transfers the assets to those named in the will to inherit them.
Before describing how to legalize a will in Texas, it is important to understand the distinction between different types of probate. The request for legalization of a will must be filed within four years of the decedent's death. However, once probate has begun, there is no deadline for completing an estate in Texas. If an estate is not completed within 15 months, then the executor or administrator can be ordered to provide an accounting of all assets, debts and expenses of the estate. The executor then has 60 days to file these accounts.
If they fail to do so, then the court can force them to file. Regardless of what type of probate you are dealing with, an estate attorney can help ease your duties as an administrator or executor. However, if there is no Living Trust or if assets outside of it exceed Texas' small inheritance threshold, then probate court will be necessary. This is further complicated because each Texas court has its own set of probate procedures and regulations. When a person dies with a draft will, then generally an executor or personal representative in the will must request its legalization. After filing for probate, there is a two-week waiting period before a hearing is scheduled.
Children, surviving spouse and siblings must agree and designate someone to serve as executor. The trustee acts in this capacity and is responsible for performing all probate duties such as notifying creditors, filing an inventory report with the county clerk and liquidating the estate. If a will cannot be validated or if there was no will at all, then probate court oversees distribution of assets according to state law. Probate filed in wrong court is likely to be dismissed even after going through all steps. Some older resources may refer to Probate Code but this information can now be found in Probate Code. Texas probate law has specific statute of limitations that dictate time limits for proving a will.
Certain courts do not allow people other than lawyers to file applications for legalizing wills or estates nor do they allow people other than lawyers to represent estates in court. Succession is process by which court legally recognizes death of person and authorizes administration which includes administration and distribution of their estate. With more than 20 years of legal experience, Keith Morris has dedicated his efforts to honing his skills in estate, trust and probate planning and litigation. He understands that navigating Texas probate law can be difficult but with proper guidance it can be done efficiently.