Last month, we discussed the different ways Texas probates estates. We outlined the four methods our state uses to distribute assets to the beneficiaries of an estate. This month, we are examining the details of how to probate a will in Texas. There are 8 steps in the process of distributing estate assets to the beneficiaries of a will. Here is what you need to know about these steps.
What Are the 8 Steps to Probating a Will in Texas?
- Filing the Will – Whether there is a will or not, you must file an application for probate. This application must be filed with the correct Texas probate court in the county where the decedent resided.
- Posting Notice – After filing for probate, a two-week waiting period will start. During this waiting period, the county clerk will post notice at the courthouse that a probate application was filed. This serves as a notice to anyone who may wish to contest the will. If no one contests the will during this period, the probate court may proceed with the administration.
- Validation – After the waiting period, the probate court will hold a hearing. During this hearing a Texas probate judge will recognize the decedent’s death, verify the decedents will, and appoint an administrator/verify the executor named in the will. If the decedent has no will, the judge will determine the proper way to proceed.
- Inventory Assets – After the hearing, the executor/administrator has 90 days to submit a report of all the decedent’s assets to the county clerk. The report will include a listing of items, property, appraisals and claims owed to the estate. Independent executors may submit an Affidavit In Lieu Of Inventory instead. This document states that all debts–except for secured debts, taxes and administration expenses–are paid and beneficiaries have received an inventory and appraisal.
- Identifying Beneficiaries – If a valid will exists, then the executor/administrator must notify the beneficiaries of the estate. The court will determine heirship if the decedent did not have a will.
- Send Notice to Creditors – If the decedent left behind debts, then their estate must resolve them. Executors must notify creditors of the decedent’s passing. This gives them the opportunity to file claims against the estate. In Texas, executors can fulfill this measure by posting notice in the local newspaper.
- Dispute Resolution – If a family member or beneficiary files grievances or contests the will, the estate cannot be finalized. A Texas probate judge must hear these disputes before proceedings can continue.
- Asset Distribution – Upon settling disputes, expenses and debts, beneficiaries may receive the remaining assets of the estate.
What Else Do I Need to Know About How to Probate a Will in Texas?
Though we are able to break down probating a will into 8 steps, each step involves a lot of work. Different circumstances will determine how you can proceed. For example, if a beneficiary contests the decedent’s will, months of negotiation may be necessary.
When complications arise, the process of sorting them out can be emotional and stressful. Having an experienced probate attorney to guide you can help manage the situation. Let us handle the legal ups and downs as you mourn and heal from the loss of your loved one.
Sheehan Law, PLLC is an Austin area law firm dedicated to helping families with real estate and probate issues. If you would like to learn more about our services, send us a message through our online contact form or call us at (512) 640-0588.