Probate Information

What is Probate?
Probate is the process by which your estate is administered through the Court if you either (1) have a Last Will and Testament (link tab) or (2) you die without any testamentary instrument (Will or Trust) and you have debts that need to be paid, property that needs to be transferred/ret-titled or both!

The administration of an estate involves:

  1. gathering the assets of the person who died (also known as the Decedent);
  2. paying his or her debts; and
  3. distributing the remaining assets to those entitled to them under the terms of the Will.

Probate with a Last Will and Testament
What are some of the benefits over not having any testamentary instrument?

  1. The initial filing fee for a Probate without a Will, in most Texas counties, is almost three times as much as the initial filing fee for a Probate with a Will.
  2. With a Will, you get to decide who you want to distribute your property and where you want your property to go. With no Will, the State of Texas could decide for you based on statute.
  3. If you have a minor, you can set up a trust through your Will that provides support for your minor as long as the assets are in that trust. If you have a minor and die without a Will, your assets could sit untouched in a court registry until your minor turns 18, at which point it would to them all outright.

Dying without a Will
What does an heirship actually involve?

If your estate is administered without a Will through Probate it is administered based on the Texas Probate Code. Someone or entity would apply to have your estate probated, most likely because of a need to transfer assets or pay debts. Your agent and your beneficiaries are determined, in most instances, based on an order of lineage.

Frequently asked questions:

Is the person who I name as my Executor personally responsible for my debts?
An Executor is not responsible for your debts just because they are serving as your Executor; your Estate is responsible for your debts. Handling a deceased’s debts can be one of the most complicated parts of the probate process depending on how solvent or insolvent their estate is, and depending on the number of and types of debts that are in the estate.

If I die without a Will, who gets my property?
You can read more in this document http://www.co.travis.tx.us/probate/pdfs/DnD_diagrams.pdf

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