In Texas, Probate is the legal process where a Will is “proved” in a court of law (Probate Court) and accepted as a valid document that is indeed the true, last Will and Testament of the deceased. Likewise, when someone fails to leave behind a Will (called dying Intestate), Probate is the legal process where the estate is settled by the court according to the Texas laws of intestacy.
Importantly, not only does the probate court decide the legal validity of a testator’s (deceased person’s) Will and grant its approval, the probate court also officially appoints the Executor (or Administrator if intestate), who is generally someone named in the Will. Once appointed, the Executor (or Administrator) has the legal authority to act for the estate of the deceased; and a legal duty toward the beneficiaries and potential creditors. Because the Executor has this duty to others (making them personally liable should something go wrong), most Texas courts require that an Executor be represented by a licensed Texas attorney during the probate process.
Below are a few (of the many) issues that are handled during
the Probate process in Texas:
- Creditors must be notified and legal notices published. When you die, your debts do not automatically “die” with you.
- Executors must distribute assets to beneficiaries and take creditors’ rights into account.
- The rights of beneficiaries must be respected, in terms of providing proper and adequate notice, making timely distribution of estate assets, and otherwise administering the estate properly and efficiently.
- Homestead property (your house), which follows its own set of unique rules, must be dealt with separately from other assets.
- Deadlines involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate.
- There may be a lawsuit pending over the decedent’s death or there may have been pending suits that are now continuing. There may be separate procedures required in contentious probate cases.
- Real estate or other property may need to be sold to allow for the proper distribution of assets pursuant to the Will, or merely to pay debts.
- Estate taxes, gift taxes, or inheritance taxes must be considered if the estate exceeds certain thresholds.
To learn more and schedule a free consultation, please call The
Cawlfield Law Firm at 972-382-5400, located on the historic downtown square in