What You Need to Know about Texas Probate Law

Texas probate law is heralded as being “simpler” than other states, but unfortunately, that does not mean that the probate process is simple for your family. Following the death of a loved one, you may be reluctant to enter the legal process of distributing assets, but take heart – you are not alone!

At Daic Law, we understand how difficult this time is, and we have created this article to help you learn more about when you can self-manage the probate process, and when it is time to contact an attorney for help.

What you Need to Know about Texas Probate Law

Texas has two primary forms of probate, also called formal probate. These formal probate processes include:

Independent Administration: This is the form most commonly used when the deceased has a will and a named executor. It is less expensive and simpler than other forms of probate.  Independent administration means that:

  • The executor does not have to post bond protecting the estate from losses due to his or her own dishonest or careless actions.
  • The executor does not have to ask the court for permission before proceeding through the various stages of probate, or in making decisions about debts, selling property, distributing assets, or setting aside family allowance funds.
  • If there is a will that does not specifically indicate independent administration, the executor can petition the Probate Court for authority to act as independent executor so long as all beneficiaries agree.

Even though independent administration is simpler, it still requires a great deal of responsibility. The executor must still file documents and inventories with the court, collect and safeguard assets, and act as a mediator between parties named in the will.

Dependent Administration: Dependent administration is less common, and while the process includes some of the same steps as noted in independent administration cases, dependent administration means that the probate process requires greater supervision and input from the Probate Court. Dependent administration is also the method used when a will or probate process is contested and the Probate Court needs to be involved in settling the estate fairly and in accordance to the law.

When you Don’t Need Probate

There are also more informal forms of probate processes which are less common, and often have different specifics relating to the laws and processes. Further, there are cases where probate is not necessary in order to transfer assets, such as:

  • When property is held in a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship
  • Community property where a right of survivorship is held
  • Bank accounts that are payable-on-death
  • Proceeds of a named life insurance policy
  • Survivor’s benefits named in an annuity

When to Get Help

If your loved one passed away with a well-drawn will establishing an executor and carefully naming beneficiaries, then you may be able to move through the probate process with relative ease (legally speaking).  Unfortunately, most probate cases are not so black-and-white. Any time there are questions about the validity or contents of a will, disputes over certain property, unclear or unnamed assets, high-dollar assets, or complex debts, you may find it helpful to contact an attorney.

At Daic Law, we can help you make sense of your probate law matter.  We work with clients, advocates, and other law firms to ensure that our clients get the help they really need.  We offer compassionate guidance that Texan’s can trust.  Contact us today to learn more by calling (713) 808-5246, or by sending us an email at info@daiclaw.com.

Sources

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/texas-probate-an-overview.html

http://www.tyla.org/tyla/assets/File/38668TexasProbatePassportWebReady.pdf

http://law.freeadvice.com/estate_planning/probate/texas-probate.htm