An estate in Texas is made up of all of the assets owned by someone at the time of his or her death. This can include real estate, retirement accounts, cash, stocks, bonds, life insurance, cars, household furnishings, grandma’s treasured ring, etc.
Probate is the Court process by which a person is appointment to handle someone’s estate after he or she dies. Probate occurs both when someone has a will and when someone dies without a will. There are many different types of probates in Texas. The following is a general overview of an independent administration with a valid will.
State Laws Give an Overview of the Process
Texas state laws govern how a person’s assets are distributed after he or she dies. If the deceased, also sometimes referred to as the “decedent,” dies with a valid will, the named executor in the will should file for probate with the courts in Texas. State and local court rules govern the time periods the executor must follow in probating a will, which typically is four (4) years. If an executor does not file the will with the court within that prescribed time period, state laws will govern how the estate’s assets are distributed. Essentially, the decedent’s wishes will no longer be followed. It would be as if the person died with no will and Texas state law would decide how the assets are distributed to each heir.
The Public Must Receive Notice
Once the executor files for probate, the executor must wait approximately two (2) weeks before he or she can have a hearing. The court needs to provide notice to the public that a will was filed for probate and post the decedent’s information. The law requires ten (10) business days and can sometimes be longer.
Creditors Must Receive Notice
The probate court is the governing authority that authorizes an executor to act on behalf of the decedent – paying bills, closing accounts, etc. The court gives “Letters Testamentary,” which are the official letters from the court. Once an executor receives the Letters Testamentary, state law mandates a set time period to provide notice to all creditors of the estate. The Texas Probate Code gives the executor one (1) month from the time she receives Letters Testamentary to publish a notice for the estate’s creditors, typically in a newspaper of some variety.
Beneficiaries Must Receive Notice
Executors have a set time period to provide written notice to all of a will’s beneficiaries-which can include family, friends, and even charities. The executor has sixty (60) days to provide a certified written letter to all beneficiaries named in the will once a judge in the probate court admits the will to probate – meaning the judge says the will is valid and is the decedent’s last wishes. All beneficiaries must receive a copy of the will and a copy of the order admitting the will to the court for the probate process. The executor must also file an affidavit indicating all beneficiaries received the requisite notice within ninety (90) days of receiving the court’s order.
Inventory and Appraisement of Decedent’s Estate
The most important deadline for a typical Probate is the preparation and filing of the Estate Inventory. This can be an exhausting process depending on the size of the estate and the division necessary for the estate. The Inventory of the Estate Assets is essentially a detailed description of all of the assets owned by Decedent as of the date of his or her death. This document must be provided to the Court within ninety (90) days after an Executor is appointed and also acts a report of the Executor’s work in identifying and gathering the assets of the estate.
The Probate Process Can Last Months, If Not Years
The time to probate an estate varies on a case-by-case basis. It’s best to consult an attorney when probating an estate because executors have responsibilities and fiduciary duties that must be fulfilled. We strive to achieve all deadlines prior to the actual deadline date and assist our clients with the most effective knowledge and preparation of the probate process. Give the probate attorneys at Brandy Austin Law Firm a call today for a free consultation.