10 Minute Will - The Probate Process

The Probate Process

January 3, 2016

What Happens After You’ve Passed Away?

So you’ve prepared and properly executed your last will and testament. Great! But what happens when you pass away? How are your wishes sure to be fulfilled?

Whether you have executed a will or not, in the state of Texas, your estate will go through a process known as probate. At its most basic level, probate is the process by which a court administers your will. The goal is to meet your debt obligations to your creditors and ensure that you final wishes are seen through. It sounds complicated, but don’t worry – it is a common procedure that, over the years, has been streamlined into a predictable process.

The Probate Process

The probate process involves several steps: filing an Application for Probate, going through a probate hearing, cataloging your estate, notifying your beneficiaries, paying your creditors and finally, distributing your remaining assets to your beneficiaries.

Step One – The Application for Probate

The first step in the process is filing an Application for Probate with the probate court. Once filed, there is a two-week waiting period, during which the county clerk issues a Posting Notice of Probate Administration. This notice is intended to notify all interested parties that a probate application was filed for your estate, and that an administration of the estate is about to take place. If there are no contests to the administration, the probate court will start the administration process of your estate.

Step Two – The Probate Hearing

Once the court has determined there are no contests to probating your will, a hearing in the probate court will take place. During this hearing, the court will formally and legally recognizes your passing. The court also will determine and verify the existence of a valid will. The court also will either appoint an administrator or verify the person you have chosen as the Executor/Administrator of your will.

Step Three – Cataloging Your Estate

Once an Executor/Administrator is officially recognized by the probate court, he or she must catalog and report all of the assets in your estate.

Step Four – Notifying Your Beneficiaries

Once the estate has been cataloged, the Executor/Administrator will notify your named. Note: If you do not have a will, or your will is found invalid by the court, the probate court will determine who will inherit your estate, according to statutory laws of intestacy. That is why it is highly recommended that you prepare and properly execute a will – so that you, not the court, determine who will inherit your estate.

Step Five – Paying Your Debts to Creditors

Most people leave behind debts when they pass away; things like medical bills, mortgages for property, credit card or other consumer debt, car loans, etc. These debts must be resolved and paid from your estate before any of your beneficiaries are entitled to what is left. Your creditors must be notified of your passing and given the chance to file claims against the estate to seek to have your debts paid. (One of the most often used ways of informing creditors of your passing is by having a notice published in a newspaper.)

Step Six – Distributing Your Assets to Your Beneficiaries

Once all of your debts are paid and/or discharged, and all other disputes are resolved by the probate court, your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries.

It’s just that simple!

While the probate process can be a daunting experience for someone who has never done it before, it doesn’t have to be. If you choose your Executor/Administrator wisely, and they know exactly what to expect, they can get through the probate process with relative ease.

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