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A Step-By-Step Guide on What Happens During Probate

If you are not familiar with the probate process, it may seem a little overwhelming at first. Probate is the process that happens after a person dies and leaves their assets and property behind without transferring them over to an heir or naming any beneficiaries. The assets and property will then be distributed by the Texas court system through probate.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process where the court oversees the distribution of a deceased’s persons debts, assets, and/or property. Probate administration refers the court facilitating this process and putting it into effect.

Who Files for Probate?

When the deceased individual, known as the decedent, dies with a legal will, the executor of the will typically files for probate. The executor has 4 years from the deceased’s death to file. If this does not happen, the laws of intestacy will come into play and decide how the decedent’s assets will be distributed.

How Long Does the Process Take?

The duration of the probate process varies according to the size and complexity of the estate. Probate could finalize in as little as 6 months, or for 1 year or longer – especially in instances where a will is contested.

How to Begin the Probate Process in Texas

Here are the steps to take to start the probate process in Texas:

  • File an application with the proper Texas probate court
  • Consult with an experienced probate attorney
  • Wait 2 weeks before attending a hearing (if the will is not contested at this time, the court will proceed)
  • During the hearing, the judge will legally recognize the decedent’s death, confirm the validity of a will, and verify the executor
  • The executor will catalogue and report all the estate’s assets within 90 days
  • If the decedent has a valid will, the executor will notify the beneficiaries of the estate. If a will was not created or found, the court will determine appropriate heirs
  • Creditors must be notified of the decedent’s death. Debts must be paid off
  • In the event the will is contested, all disputes must be resolved at this point
  • Distribute assets to the appropriate beneficiaries

How Can you Contest a Will?

You must prove that a will is invalid to contest it. You can accomplish this by proving one of the following:

  • Will was forged
  • Improper execution
  • More than one will was executed
  • Will was completed by force

Disputes over a will in Texas are often resolved during a mediation session or with the assistance of attorneys as this is the suggested course of action for resolving probate conflicts in the state.

Who Is Responsible for the Debts of the Decedent?

Creditors are entitled to recover debts, even after an individual has died. They can recover this debt from the estate, which includes any assets the decedent owned at the time of his/her death. Other family members are not liable for the decedent’s debts. If the estate cannot cover the debts, the creditor will need to cancel them. The debts will be paid through the probate process.

If you require the services of an experienced probate attorney, contact our firm online or call us at (512) 768-9737 to secure a consultation.

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