When a loved one passes away family members are often left with handling the person’s property and passing it on to others. The loved one may have left a Will, designating heirs to his property, which needs to be probated. Family members in Round Rock or Cedar Park may wonder, what is probate and how does the probate process work? It is important that you know what the probate process is under Texas law for probating the Will so you do not miss any important requirements in handling the estate. In this article we will give a basic definition and overview of the process for probating a Will in Texas. If you have questions about Wills or need help probating a Texas Will, contact Austin probate lawyer Farren Smith for a consultation.
Definition of Probate in Texas
The legal definition of probate is:
The court procedure by which a Will is proved to be valid or invalid, and generally includes all matters and proceedings pertaining to administration of the estate.
Put another way, probate is in essence:
The orderly process of winding up the business affairs of a person who has passed away.
What is 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.
Officially, the probate process begins when a person 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. Then the court clerk will notify interested parties of the probate of the Will’s estate.
Throughout the probate process, the court decides various issues, such as:
- Whether the Will is the last true and valid Will of the loved one known legally as the “decedent”;
- What the assets are in the decedent’s estate;
- What any creditors’ rights are in property of the estate;
- How the assets should be distributed to beneficiaries under the terms of the Will; and
- How to handling titling issues.
In the probate process, the court issues Letters Testamentary to the Executor directing her as to how to administer and distribute the decedent’s assets among beneficiaries, creditors and any others who have an interest in the property.
If the Will established an independent administration, the Executor will be able to settle the estate easier and less expensively. However, not all Wills establish independent administration. In those cases, the court will supervise more of the day-to-day probate process.
What Else Should I Know About Probating a Will?
As we discussed above, a Will has to be proved in court in probate. Here are some important points to know:
- In Texas a Will can be handwritten or typed.
- Make sure you have the original Will.
- Generally, the Will has to be probated within four years after the person’s death.
Contact our offices to speak with an Austin probate attorney who can help you through the probate process and effectively distribute the loved one’s estate.
- Tex. Prob. Code