Probating a Will in Texas

Categories: Probate

When a loved one passes away, the family members have what sometimes seems like an overwhelming task of winding up the affairs and trying to move forward. Many times probating the deceased’s Will is part of that process. In this article we will discuss generally how to probate a Will in Texas. If you have questions about how to probate a Will in the Austin and Pflugerville areas, contact Austin probate lawyer Farren Smith for a consultation.

Probate Process in Texas

As we have discussed in other articles, probate is essentially proving a Will in order to wind up the business affairs of a person who has passed away and distribute the estate. The probate process is handled in court. Usually family members hire a probate attorney to help them through the court process. The probate will generally occur in the county where the decedent lived. For example, if the decedent lived in Austin the probate should be brought in a Travis County court.

Do You Need to Go to Probate?

Not all estates need to be probated. If the estate contains only non-probate assets or is very small, it is possible that you do not need to go to probate. Usually you will need to probate a Will if there are creditors that need to be paid, property must be collected, or if there are assets to be distributed to beneficiaries, and the court needs to handle proper passing of title. You must probate a Will within four years of the person’s death.

How to Start the Probate Process

The probate process is handled in court. Often family members hire a Texas probate attorney to help them with the details and paperwork of probating a Will. There are many options to a traditional probate process and a Texas attorney can be helpful in deciding which one is the best for your situation.

To begin the probate process in many cases, an applicant files an Application to Probate Will and for Issuance of Letters Testamentary with the county court clerk. Often the person filing these papers is the person named as the Executor in the Will, or a Texas attorney on her behalf. She should attach the original Will to the Application. It is important that most counties in the State of Texas do not allow Executors to represent the estate in this process, but require them to retain an attorney.

How the Probate Process Works

After the Application and other paperwork is filed, there will be a hearing before the court. At the hearing to probate the Will, the Executor or her probate attorney helping her presents proof of the decedent’s death and proves up the original Will.

Once the court is satisfied, the judge issues orders regarding probating the Will and naming the Executor to handle the administration under the court’s direction. The Executor must take an oath to perform her duties. The court then issues official Letters Testamentary to the Executor giving her authority to settle the estate and directions to administer and distribute the decedent’s assets among beneficiaries, creditors and any others who have an interest in the property.

Contact Austin probate attorney Farren Smith who can help you through the probate process and effectively distribute the loved one’s estate.

Sources

  • Tex. Prob. Code