Without a probate attorney to guide you, the Texas probate process can be a daunting experience. To begin with, certain Courts will not allow non–lawyers to file applications to probate a will or an estate nor will they allow non–lawyers to represent an estate in Court. Also, it can be particularly difficult if there are multiple beneficiaries, or a decision must be made regarding the type of probate that should be filed. It’s extremely important to start the probate process in the correct jurisdiction. Probates filed in the incorrect court will likely be thrown out even after going through all the steps. This is further complicated by each court in Texas having its own set of probate proceedings and qualifications. Before filing, it’s best to check with the county clerk in the county or counties where you feel your probate should be handled.
The 8 Steps of Texas Probate–
1. File the Original Will and Petition. The executor or administrator (the person responsible for handling the estate) must file the original will and a petition with the court in the county where the deceased person lived.
2. Notice of Hearing. Once the probate court receives the petition and the will, it will schedule a hearing to appoint the executor or administrator. Notice of the hearing must be given to any potential beneficiaries of the estate.
3. Appointment of Executor or Administrator. At the hearing, the court will decide if the executor or administrator is qualified to handle the estate. If so, the court will issue Letters of Testamentary or Letters of Administration to the executor or administrator.
4. Inventory and Appraisal of Estate. The executor or administrator must then make an inventory of all the assets in the estate, including real estate, personal property, and financial accounts. An appraisal of the estate may also be necessary.
5. Payment of Debts and Taxes. The executor or administrator must pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate. This includes funeral expenses, medical bills, and any other debts owed.
6. Distribution of Assets. Once all the debts and taxes have been paid, the executor or administrator will distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.
7. Final Accounting. The executor or administrator must file a final accounting with the probate court, which includes a list of all the assets and debts of the estate, as well as the amount of money paid to the beneficiaries.
8. Closing of the Estate. Once the final accounting is approved by the probate court, the executor or administrator must file a petition to close the estate. Once the petition is approved, the executor or administrator is released from all further duties.
Probating a will in Texas can be a complicated process. Hiring a knowledgeable probate attorney can save you time and help ensure that the process goes smoothly.