Most people have a misconception that once mom and dad pass away, the kids automatically get everything distributed amongst themselves if there is no Will. That is actually untrue. The probate process is quite lengthy process. It helps to have an experienced attorney on your side to make the process easier.
The probate process is broken up into two different sections: Testate and Intestate. The focus of this article is the probate process for Testate cases.
Testate: “Testate” is a fancy word for having a valid Will before a person dies. If a person passes away and they have a Will then the probate process becomes a little easier. A valid Will will more than likely dispose of all of the decedent’s estate in the manner he/she wanted. Below is the process broken down into ten (10) steps.
- Step One: File an Application to Probate a Will. Typically, the executor named in the Will will request the Court to admit the Will to probate. In many states, including Texas, the Code provides that any “interested person” can apply. For this step, you will need an original copy of the Will. It is very important to keep the original copy of the Will in a safe place and let the executor named in your Will know its whereabouts.
- Step Two: Posting Citations. The probate clerk will post citations to all of the interested parties listed in the Will to make an appearance in the case if they so desire. A requisite time is allowed for the filing of an appearance.
- Step Three: Hearing. Following the end of the requisite time, the applicant can now set a hearing with the Court to “probate” the Will. At the hearing, the executor or the interested person would present the Will and proof of death to the Court. Once the Court determines that the Will should be admitted to probate, the Judge will sign an order probating the will and appoint the executor. The executor will be required to take an oath to diligently perform his/her duties.
- Step Four: Letters of Testamentary. The Court will issue letters of testamentary, which allows the Executor to act on behalf of the estate.
- Step Five: Notice to Creditors. The executor will have to provide a notice to all creditors via publication. The executor will also have to provide a notice to all known creditors with liens against the real or personal property of the estate.
- Step Six: Notice to Beneficiaries. The executor will be required to send a copy of the order admitting the Will to all of the beneficiaries listed in the Will. The executor will have to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that he/she has provided a notice to all of the beneficiaries.
- Step Seven: Inventory. The executor is required to prepare an inventory, an appraisement of the estate, and a list of any outstanding claims against the estate. The inventory has to be filed with the Court along with an affidavit of filing the inventory.
- Step Eight: Settle Claims: The executor will be required to accept or reject any claims made by the creditors.
- Step Nine: Disbursement: Finally, the estate is disbursed according to the Will. Titles to real property and personal property are issued to appropriate beneficiaries.
- Step Ten: Closing: A closing of the estate is filed with the Court to indicate to the Court that the estate is officially disposed of.
There are many steps, hoops, and deadlines that have to be met in order to dispose of a person’s estate after their passing. An experienced probate lawyer in Arlington TX trusts can help you draft all of the documents necessary to effectively dispose of a decedent’s estate.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into the testate probate process.