We have covered the definition of the probate process on our blog in the past, which is vital information for those developing their estate plans. Also relevant, however, is the specific procedure for probate in the state of Texas since probate works differently in each state and can have a unique set of rules and regulations. At McCulloch & Miller, we specialize in Texas law and are recognized as experts in the field of the probate process in Texas.
What is Involved in Probate in Texas?
In Texas, there are several steps that initiate the probate process once an individual has died. First, the person’s representative files a petition with the court, and beneficiaries, as well as creditors, receive notice that the probate process has begun. Representatives pay off debts and taxes, then distribute the remaining assets with the help of a probate court.
There are certain rules specific to Texas that apply to the probate process, and that might not apply in other states. For example, a decedent’s representative has four years from the date of death to file for probate. If four years come and go, and the representative has failed to file, the court will divide the decedent’s assets based on certain laws of intestacy, meaning rules that dictate which family members or loved ones receive a decedent’s assets when there is no valid will.
Also relevant to filing in Texas is the number of courts that handle probate matters. There are 18 probate courts, found in 10 different counties throughout the state. Each individual has a designated court where they should file for probate, and it is essential to begin the process in the correct court. If you file in the wrong Texas court, the entire petition might be thrown out, leaving you back where you started before putting together the initial filing.
Texas also has its own set of procedural hurdles that need to be addressed during probate. For example, the administrator of an estate must prepare several documents – an inventory, an appraisal, and a list of claims – that make it easy for the court to understand what assets are at stake. The amount of detail required in these forms depends on the complexity of the estate and the beneficiaries eligible to receive the assets.
Overall, the Texas probate process can be daunting and complicated. The best way to make sure you are taken care of is to hire an estate planning lawyer that can ensure you have access to all the tools you need to make your probate process a success.
Do You Have a Texas Estate Planning Attorney by Your Side?
At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, our Houston estate planning lawyers take a client-centered approach to all of our cases so that decedents and their loved ones have access to the fairest, most accurate probate process possible. If you have not yet retained an attorney for your estate planning needs in Texas, give us a call today at 713-597-7176. You can also fill out our online form to get in touch with us.