Probate is the legal process in which a court distributes a person’s assets after they are deceased. This usually occurs when the deceased person does not leave behind a trust, a will, or some kind of instruction to distribute their assets after they die. The court appoints an executor to find and distribute all of the deceased’s assets to his or her debtors and heirs, but all states have their own laws for how probate is handled, and Texas is no different.
The Necessity of Probate
While a last will and testament is not a necessity, the probate process can be a strenuous time, especially for those who are struggling with the loss of a beloved friend and family member. This situation can only be worsened if all of the prospective heirs are in dispute with one another, lengthening the asset settlement process. Whether a probate case is started in towns like Ennis or Red Oak, or larger metropolitan areas like Dallas or Houston, the probate process is the same. The only difference is the time it takes to settle a probate case. Some are settled in just a few months while others can drag on for many years.
The Probate Process in Texas
In Texas, someone representing the deceased will file for probate with the local court, after which, a hearing is held after two weeks. If there is no objection, then the probate judge will verify the will or the lack of a will. After this, the judge will appoint an executor who must declare all of the deceased’s assets to the court within 90 days and identify all possible beneficiaries. At this point, a probate lawyer might be brought in to help settle disputes between heirs as to which assets gets distributed to whom.
Assigning an Estate Executor
During the first stage of probate, the court will appoint someone to locate all of the assets of the deceased. This person is either designated by the deceased via a will or by the court, usually their closest relative. In Texas, the executor or witness of the trust generally has a time limit of four years from the date of death to file a will before the court initiates probate. If this time limit is exceeded, then the will is treated as null and void and the assets will be distributed by the court.
Settlement Through Probate
Texas has their own laws for handling how a deceased person’s assets are distributed, regardless if they have a last will and testament or not. If the deceased leaves behind no instructions, then the situation becomes even more trying on the family then it already is. The laws are not always clear cut or simple, but with help from professionals in negotiating a fair distribution of assets and other settlement matters such as child custody and pets, a grieving family can find comfort in knowing that the deceased’s wishes are being respected.