How to Prepare for the Probate Process

 Posted on May 07, 2024 in Probate Administration

Fort Worth probate attorneyLosing a loved one is an emotionally draining experience that no one should have to face alone. During such a difficult time, the last thing you likely want to deal with is difficult legal and financial matters. However, assets, debts, and an estate often need to be appropriately handled and distributed when someone passes away. A Texas lawyer can help ensure you go about the probate process carefully.

Locate the Will

The first step is locating the deceased’s last will and testament if one exists. This legal document outlines how the decedent wanted the estate divided and who should serve as executor. Under Texas law, if there is a valid will, the probate process follows the instructions laid out in that will. According to Texas intestate succession laws, the estate assets get distributed without a will. Carefully review any will to understand the provisions.

Determine If Probate Is Required

Not all estates require full probate in Texas. Smaller estates that fall below the state’s threshold value and meet certain other criteria may be eligible for a simplified “muniment of title” or small estate affidavit process instead of formal probate court proceedings. You and your lawyer can evaluate if this option applies.

Gather Necessary Documents

Compiling all relevant paperwork from the outset will help the probate process run efficiently. Useful documents include the will, death certificate, trust paperwork, deeds and titles for real estate and vehicles, life insurance policies, recent tax returns, bank and investment account statements, and a list of assets and debts. Having these in order demonstrates you are prepared.

Choose The Right Executor

In a will, the decedent nominates a desired executor, which is the person who will take charge of probating the estate. If there is no will or the named executor cannot serve, the court will appoint an administrator based on the state’s intestate rules. Selecting the right executor is vital, as this individual plays a central role in the probate process. The executor should be highly organized and impartial.

File The Required Paperwork

Once all the initial prep work is completed, the executor must file the necessary paperwork with the appropriate Texas probate court to officially open the estate case. This includes applications, the death certificate, a will, if applicable, and other legal documents. After the court approves the executor’s appointment, notices are published to establish the probate timeline.

Probate Court Proceedings

During probate, the executor’s central duties involve:

  • Identifying and gathering the assets that made up the decedent’s estate.
  • Paying off any taxes and debts.
  • Ultimately, the remaining assets will be distributed per the will’s instructions or state law if no will exists.

The probate court oversees and approves these actions. The executor must keep detailed records and follow protocols.

Contact a Fort Worth, TX Probate Attorney

Although probate is not always complex, it demands diligence and organization to adhere to all Texas laws and court mandates. Being thoroughly prepared and following these steps can lead to more efficient and expedited proceedings. A Fort Worth, TX probate lawyer can provide further guidance customized to your specific situation. Call Gonzalez Law, PLLC at 817-349-7330 for a free consultation.

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