In February, we discussed one of the first steps in preparing for probate: Understanding Your Loved One’s Will. In that article, we discussed the various roles that a person’s will plays in probate, from (potentially) designating the method of probate to accounting for funeral expenses and distributing some or all of the decedent’s assets after death.

Along with understanding your loved one’s will, when preparing for probate, it is also important to familiarize yourself with the process involved. Probate is just that – a process – and the better you understand it, the better able you will be to protect your personal interests while ensuring that your loved one’s final wishes are carried through.

What to Expect During Probate in Texas

While the technical aspects of the probate process vary for dependent and independent probate administration, the key steps involved are generally the same. During probate, the decedent’s personal representative will be primarily responsible for:

  • Initiating the probate process – The probate process starts with filing the decedent’s will (if any) and an application for probate in the appropriate county court.
  • Identifying the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs – Taking into consideration the provisions of the decedent’s will (assuming it is valid) and any applicable provisions of Texas’ intestate succession laws, the decedent’s beneficiaries and heirs will need to be identified.
  • Identifying and valuing the assets in the decedent’s estate – The personal representative will also be responsible for identifying and valuing the assets comprising the decedent’s probate estate. This includes any assets identified in the will as well as any other assets not covered by non-probate transfers.
  • Satisfying valid creditor claims – Once all probate assets are accounted for, any valid creditor claims must be satisfied using assets from the estate. The personal representative is responsible for providing adequate notice to creditors.
  • Paying the expenses incurred during probate – In addition to paying creditors, the personal representative must also ensure payment of all expenses incurred during the probate process.
  • Distributing the decedent’s remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs – After all valid creditor claims and probate-related expenses have been paid, the remainder of the decedent’s probate estate will be distributed to his or her beneficiaries and heirs.
  • Carrying out the other provisions of the decedent’s will – Finally, the personal representative must carry out any other provisions of the decedent’s will. For example, if the will provides for guardianship of a minor children, the guardianship will need to be established along with the distribution of the decedent’s estate.

Will Contests and Probate Litigation

In some circumstances, family members may disagree over the validity or interpretation of their loved one’s will, or other legal issues may arise during dependent or independent administration. When this is the case, will contests and probate litigation can prolong the administration process. These disputes involve their own processes and procedures, and anyone anticipating a probate-related dispute should promptly seek legal representation.

Contact a McKinney Probate Lawyer at Nordhaus Walpole PLLC

If you are preparing to go through the probate process, or if you are in probate and are facing a will contest or other dispute, we invite you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. To discuss your situation with one of our experienced probate lawyers, please call (214) 726-1450 or inquire online today.