How Does Probate Work?

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 21, 2019
How Does Probate Work
Death confronts people both personally and legally. Personally, people must deal with the loss of a loved one and the emotions that go along with that process. Legally, a death certificate must be issued and the property of the person who has died (the Decedent) must be transferred. The process of handling a Decedent’s estate, legally, is often called probate or estate administration.  

Does a Will Need to be Probated?

The primary purposes of a probate are to collect and preserve the Decedent’s assets, make payments of debts, and finally, to distribute the remaining assets to the proper beneficiaries under the will.

Typically, people think of probate being a court supervised process, which is extremely restrictive. However, in Texas, the law provides for an Independent Administration/Probate that typically is very simple. The basic roadmap is as follows:

  • File the original will and application for probate in the county of the Decedent’s residence;
  • Have a brief hearing before the court to determine whether the will is valid and to appoint an Independent Executor;
  • Collect and secure the estate assets and pay any legally enforceable debts;
  • Provide the legal notices required under the Texas Probate Code; 
  • Provide the court an inventory of the estate assets; and 
  • Transfer of probate assets to beneficiaries.

A similar process can take place when the Decedent does not have a will. However, having a valid will simplifies it greatly for everyone involved. If you have a will, you determine who is your executor, how your assets are divided after your debts are paid and who receives those assets.

If you don’t have a will, this is referred to as dying intestate. Instead of you determining who receives your estate, Texas law determines the beneficiaries of your assets. It should be clarified, that rarely does the state ever take possession of your assets.

Probate Lawyers in Amarillo, Texas

Wills, estate planning and probate go hand in hand. The best way to make sure everything runs smoothly and guarantee your final wishes are carried out is to hire an experienced lawyer. The lawyers at Amarillo law firm Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. can act as representatives and guides through the Texas probate process. Darin Mitchell, who is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is an expert in probate and estate administration. Contact Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. today for a consultation and let us help you plan for the future.

photo credit: Theophilus Photography via photopin cc

Topics: Estate Planning