To “probate a will” means to pass a will through the legal process in which the property and estate of the deceased will holder is distributed to the intended beneficiaries. This typically includes family, close relatives, friends, and other loved ones. The probate process is generally handled by the will executor, who is named in the will.
In the state of Texas, the probate process usually addresses: validation of the will’s authenticity; identification/classification of the property; valuation of the property if needed; and timely distribution of the property. If a person dies without a will (intestate), the state may have to govern much of the probate process, which can often yield different distribution results.
Texas probate law is considerably less complex than the laws of other states. Texas probate laws allow for what is called “Independent Administration of Estate.” This is where the executor is allowed to probate the will with less intervention from the courts. They can also execute the distributions without having to post bond (i.e. obtain insurance to protect the state). They also do not need to obtain court permission for various steps, including:
- Paying off debts
- Setting aside allowance for family members
- Selling certain estate property items
- Distributing assets
Alternatively, the will can be subject to “Dependent Administration of Estate.” This is where the court supervises a greater amount of the probate process.
In Texas, some property and assets can be transferred without having to go through the probate process. These include: payable-on-death accounts; community property with right of survivorship; property that was held as joint tenancy w/right of survivorship; certain life insurance benefits or proceeds; and certain annuity benefits.
The probate process may often involve some very important decisions and distinctions. You may need to hire a Texas probate lawyer if you need assistance with the probate laws in Texas. Your attorney can help you review documents and can give you legal advice on how Texas laws may affect the property or estate involved. Also, if there are any legal conflicts, your attorney can represent you court to help resolve the dispute.