Basics of the Probate Process in Texas
If you’ve been named the executor of the estate of someone you care about in their will, you may be intimidated at the prospect of fulfilling your duties properly and efficiently. Probate can be a complex and confusing process, made even more challenging when the deceased person was a beloved parent, spouse or friend. Fortunately, help is available in the form of skilled and experienced Texas probate lawyers who can shepherd you through the process. Below, you’ll find a basic outline of the steps involved in probating a will in Texas. Contact a knowledgeable Houston probate attorney if you have any additional questions. The steps to probate the will are:
1. File an application with the court
The first step in the probate process is to file a Application for Probate in the county where the decedent lived. This step will also result in the county clerk posting a notice that the Will is being presented for probate, to give third parties the opportunity to protest.
2. Admit the will
Next, the court will hold a hearing where the probate judge will examine the will and witnesses and, if appropriate, admit the will to probate. The judge will also formally appoint the executor named in the will, assuming there is no reason why that person is unsuitable.
3. Notify creditors of the death
Executors must provide notice to the decedent’s creditors—whether medical facilities, credit card companies, lienholders, or otherwise—of the death. This gives the creditors a chance to file a claim for the debts they believe they’re owed with the estate.
4. Inventory the estate
The executor must inventory the assets owned by the decedent at the time of their death, whether financial accounts or investments, real property, or personal items. They must also include the value of these assets. There are professionals who can help you inventory and value the estate.
5. Identify beneficiaries of the estate
Identifying who inherits under the will may be simple, such as in cases where the decedent had only a small family and all beneficiaries named in the will are living. In other cases, executors may need professional help in locating and notifying those who inherit from the decedent’s estate.
6. Pay debts and distribute the assets
If there are no legal challenges to the will and all debts owed by the decedent have been paid, the assets remaining in the estate can be paid to the beneficiaries.
If you’ve been named as the executor in a Texas will, get professional, knowledgeable, and detail-oriented legal help completing the probate process by contacting a Houston probate attorney at the Stephens | Domnitz | Meineke PLLC at 713-463-6000.