Understanding the probate process

In Texas, wills are required to go through the probate process before the contents can be distributed amongst beneficiaries.

When a friend or loved one passes away, they often leave behind a last will and testament. This crucial document names the beneficiaries of the deceased's estate, and dictates the property and belongings that each person is entitled to. Once the creator of the will is gone, the legal document may be sent through the probate process in order to ensure everything is carried out according to the deceased's wishes. In some cases, the probate process can be relatively simple. There are situations, however, where the entire process can be complicated and overwhelming.

What is probate?

During the probate process, the executor of the will is established. While some people put the name of the person who they wish to administer the estate in the will, others do not. In those situations, the court will appoint an executor to oversee the distribution of property and assets. In some states, the probate process may be avoided altogether if the assets of the estate are transferred into living trust, which may be jointly owned by the intended beneficiaries. According to Texas statutes, however, all wills in the state must go through probate before the assets and/or property are distributed to the beneficiaries.

There are other assets, such as retirement plan funds, life insurance funds and certain bank account funds and real estate, that may also be exempt from undergoing probate, depending on state laws and regulations.

Probate regulations

Once a person has been deceased for at least four years, the executor named in the will, or a person appointed by the beneficiaries of the will can apply for probate. In addition to filling out an application for probate, the executor must produce certain documents to submit with the paperwork. The court must ensure that the documents are valid and legal in nature before progressing. Once the will has been verified as valid and entered into the probate process, there is a period of time where the will may be contested. People may come forward and pose questions as to the contents of the will, as well as its validity.

Getting assistance from an attorney

Going through the probate process can be difficult and it may cause anxiety to those who are still trying to cope with the emotional effects of losing a loved one. It can be difficult to make decisions during such a hard time. A Texas attorney who understands how the probate process works may be invaluable to people who are struggling through the process.