Steps To Probate A Will In Texas – When a person dies, emotions and obligations intensify for the people he or she loved. After death, everyone grieves, albeit in different ways, and faces the prospect of a long journey through loss. Besides the painful feelings, there are dozens of decisions to make. There is a memorial to be organized. There are arrangements to be made with the mortuary. There may even be life-changing, long-term logistics to consider, such as the financial impact of losing a breadwinner or moving to a more affordable neighborhood.
Into this context enters probate – the legal process of distributing the property of the deceased among survivors – and things often get messy. You probably know families that have been torn apart by this process. You may have even experienced this in your own family. The probate process can and does have damaging effects on relationships, though not always. However, it is prudent to familiarize yourself with probate – what it is and how you can avoid it. Taking ownership of your estate plan allows you to control how your assets are handled when you are no longer around to manage the process.
Steps To Probate A Will In Texas
In general, probate involves the court appraising an estate, making sure its debts are paid, and assigning someone the task of distributing the property left in it.1 Whether or not the deceased left a will, the process is quite similar, although the distribution of assets is otherwise determined.
How To Probate A Will In Texas
If the person did leave a will, the will must be authenticated. Basically, this means that a judge must confirm that the will was signed, dated and drafted correctly.2 The judge must also approve the executor named in the will – the administrator of the estate whose job it is to insure the deceased. a person’s wishes are honored – before the work of probating the estate can begin. The executor is responsible for identifying all assets in the estate, giving public notice of the death, and paying bills and taxes owed by the deceased.
If there is no will, the judge will appoint a personal representative, also known as an administrator. State laws determine who becomes the administrator; often, this is a surviving spouse or child.3 This person bears many of the same responsibilities as the executor. In some states, an executor is required by law to purchase what is called a probate bond—an expense that is later repaid if the person acts with integrity in distributing the estate’s assets.
Once the obligations of the estate have been fulfilled, the executor or personal representative oversees the distribution of the estate. If the deceased did not make a will, the court determines who gets what. Formulas and processes for making this determination vary by state. Most states will distribute the property to the immediate family of the deceased.4 Courts in some states divide property 50-50, or in half; others consider a variety of factors to fairly, or fairly, distribute the assets.5
Probate, as you either know or can imagine, can become a hotly contested process. It can take a lot of energy, effort, time and money.6 Some probate proceedings are quick and easy. Many are not. The good news is that there are ways to protect the people you love from having to deal with legal proceedings at the same time they are grieving your death. Here are some of them:
Probate Law Services
If you have a small estate — the definition of small varies in each state; for some, it’s less than $15,000 and for others, it’s less than $200,000 – you can avoid the probate process altogether. To find out what your state considers small, check out the table we created here. Often, managing a small estate just involves filling out a form that allows you to collect assets from third-party institutions, including banks.
Another simple way to avoid probate is to give away what you own before you die. That way, you can be sure that your decisions aren’t challenged, either by a judge or by the people you love, when you’re not around to explain or defend them.
You can also name beneficiaries on your bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, brokerage accounts and insurance policies. In legal parlance, this is known as making your accounts Payable on Death (POD) or designating them as Transfer on Death (TOD). What this means is that the money in your accounts will go directly to the people you name rather than through the court. The process is simple. To make a bank account or retirement account POD, you can fill out a form at your bank.7 You can make stock, bond and brokerage accounts POD by requesting a form from your stockbroker or the company in which you own shares.8
Another way to avoid probate is to jointly own your assets with someone you trust to carry out your wishes after your death.9 Many people think that you can only jointly own assets and accounts with your spouse, but that is not actually the case. There are specific arrangements for married couples, but you can also give someone else a right of survivorship, or the right to take over your share of jointly owned property.10
How Long Does Probate Take? It Really Depends On These 5 Factors
Perhaps the most common way people avoid probate is to set up a revocable living trust. A will must be probated by the court, which takes time and money. Faith does not. When you set up a revocable living trust, you name a trustee. This person is legally obligated to use any assets you place in your trust for your benefit or according to your wishes. As long as you live, you retain the right to revoke the trust. But if the trust is active when you die, ownership of the property in it still belongs to the trustee. This means that it is no longer part of your estate, and therefore does not need to be proved.11
Most people don’t want to think about death or make a plan to protect the people they leave behind. The prospect can be scary and sad. But if you know anyone who has been burned by the probate process, you know that planning your estate can be a thoughtful gift to the people you love and, sadly, will leave behind. Check out our Estate Planning Checklist, including a database of official forms, with templates for wills and living trusts, to start thinking about your estate today. When a person dies, their estate must be settled. Estate sounds like a fancy word, but it simply means all of their assets. In layman’s terms, this is “all they own.”
The process of settling an estate against any outstanding liabilities is called probate. This leads to the common question of how to probate a will in Texas.
The big picture idea involved is this. If a deceased person has not clearly or adequately defined how to manage their estate after they have passed, a court inspection will be required to control this process.
What You Need To Know About Probate In Texas [infographic]
The courts will first look to legal documents to decide if a formal will is necessary, and if so, proceed accordingly. The length of time that probate takes in Texas will depend on a number of factors, which we discuss below.
People have varying degrees of preparedness at the time of their passing. In some cases, such a death is sudden and untimely. In other cases of longevity, people simply omit this crucial planning. After all, who wants to think about death?
If you’re married, it’s worth talking to an experienced estate planning attorney to avoid some of the challenges we’ll discuss shortly with regard to Texas probate. But this article is not about the need to prepare, per se.
If you’re reading about the probate process, it’s likely that you simply need to survey the landscape and learn how best to proceed in your current circumstances.
Ultimate Texas Probate Guide
This post will guide you through the issues of inheritance, inheritance, guardianship, surviving spouse, and how the assets of a deceased person will be managed. However, it is not a substitute for specific and practical legal advice. If you need such advice, contact us.
This is the best case when it comes to probate, specifically in Texas. A trust is like a legal envelope that holds the assets of the deceased, clearly establishing inheritance, and the rules dictate the timing of such transfers.
Since their is a trustee involved and a beneficiary name was clear, no probate proceeding is required. This is because the issue of ownership has already been resolved.
The assets are owned by the trust, but managed by the individual who recently passed away. This event now triggers a trustee to control the deceased’s assets.
Simple Ways To Write A Will In Texas
The trustee is simply the legally responsible personal representative who has been established by the trust attorney to manage these matters. According to Texas estate code, no district court is required.
A: Yes. That’s why trusts are an essential planning tool once people understand how they work. They do not belong only to the privileged or ultra-rich, and can help you avoid probate proceedings in the event of a person’s death.
The next best thing to a living trust is a will. The function of a will is to name a beneficiary of the assets
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