Have you ever wondered exactly what happens to your property, bank accounts, possessions and everything else you own after you die?
All of your assets will go through a process known as probate, even if you have an estate plan. It’s important to understand what happens during probate so you and your attorney can properly prepare.
What Is Probate and How Does it Work?
The term “probate” refers to a legal process of administering a person’s estate after they die. The person who passes away is known as the testator.
Probate can involve validating a testator’s will, as well as distributing their assets and paying off any outstanding debts or taxes. Whether or not you have a will determines how the probate process is carried out, which is why it’s so crucial to have an estate plan in place.
The probate process can typically take up to six months, but it can be longer if there are disputes. In Texas, probate typically involves many different steps, including:
- Filing a petition for probate with the court
- Validating a testator’s will if one is available and filed with the court
- Identifying an executor of the testator’s will
- Notifying estate beneficiaries
- Doing an inventory and appraisal of the testator’s assets
- Paying off any debts and taxes owed by the testator
- Distributing any remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries in the testator’s will, or as determined by Texas law if there isn’t a will
Probate When You Have a Will
If you create a will, you can assign someone as your executor. An executor is responsible for carrying out your wishes when you die and filing your will with the probate court. Generally, under Texas law, an executor has up to four years to file your will.
Once the will is filed, the probate process begins. The court will validate the authenticity of the will and officially appoint the executor named in the will. This gives the executor the legal power to act on the will of the testator.
Probate When You Don’t Have a Will
Even if you don’t have a will and a named executor, your estate will still go through the probate process. The court will appoint a person as an executor or personal representative, often starting with a spouse, adult child or relative of the deceased.
Once this representative is identified, they’ll take an oath of office and file the petition for probate. It’s important to note that without a will, the probate process can be costlier.
Navigate the Probate Process With Schneider Law Firm, P.C. in Fort Worth
Probate can be a time-consuming and expensive process for your loved ones, so it’s critical to have an estate plan. From setting up trusts to updating your will, the family law attorneys at Schneider Law Firm, P.C. will learn about your unique situation and provide you with thorough guidance.