The process of probate involves the compensation of any final expenses and the transferring of property and estate assets to beneficiaries after a person dies. Probate is a legal process, but it does not mean that a probate judge has to be there along every step of the probate process, nor does it mean that you have to appear in probate court. Each state has its own set of probate laws, but most states allow a type of informal probate that has its own unique benefits.
What Is Informal Probate?
An informal probate, which is also called an informal family settlement in Texas, is a common substitute that people use if an estate is small and has mostly personal property. Informal probate is best used when the person who died left only personal belongings such as clothes, and other personal household items.
Texas courts enforce family settlement agreements even if the distribution of the assets under the agreement differ from the distribution of the assets under the will. In order for an informal family settlement agreement to be completely enforceable, it must:
- Be agreed to by all of the beneficiaries
- Provide that any implied will shall not be probated, and
- Provide for a distribution plan of the estate to replace the one in the will
Why Would I Need an Informal Probate Process in Texas?
Informal family settlement agreements are used most often when potential beneficiaries of the estate are interested in contesting a will. Under Texas law, the beneficiaries can agree together how to divide the property and agree not to probate the will. These informal family settlement agreements are an alternative way for everyone to agree to the estate’s disposition without traditionally entering probate court.
If you are interested in an informal family settlement agreement in Texas, you should first contact a probate attorney who can help you along the way. Attorney Farren Sheehan in Pflugerville has experience in Texas probate law, and she can give you more information on your settlement agreements. Contact Sheehan Law, PLLC today at (512) 640-0588 to request a consultation.