Things to Know About Probate

by | Mar 29, 2013 | Law

The word “Probate” has two meanings, both of which have to do with your death. Probate can be the act of entering a will to court for probate, or as more commonly used, it refers to the method by which your estate is managed and administered in accordance with the Texas probate code.

The idea of probate is to ensure that the process of transferring your estate is done in an orderly fashion, supervised by an administrator in accordance with specific rules. The estate of the deceased must be dispersed in a way and manner which ensures all debts and taxes are discharged before the balance is dispersed to the specified beneficiaries. The Texas probate code is rather like a script written for a movie; it guides the complete process from start to finish.

One way or the other, your estate will be probated; if you have a will, then it is you that makes the determination on how your assets will be distributed and to whom. If you do not have a will, you will die what is known as “intestate,” and the law will determine who gets what, regardless of any implied wishes you may have had.

Probate is done after your death so it will mean little too you; however, it is always a good idea to understand how the Texas probate code works. The basis is rather simple, probate:

  • Pays all debts and taxes owed by yourself at the time of your death
  • Transfers your assets to your beneficiaries

The probate court, which, being a State rather than a Federal court, sets the probate rules, and they may vary from state to state Despite minor differences, the Texas probate codeworks about the same as any other state code. The process is straight forward:

  • The court swears in your administrator
  • The court notifies the heirs, creditors and the general public that you died
  • An inventory of your property is made
  • Your estate is distributed per your wishes after debts and taxes are paid

If you die intestate, in other words if you die without leaving a will, the courts will designate an individual to administer your estate. You may have a will, but if your named administrator has pre-deceased you and you have not named someone else, your will is invalid; it is the same if you have a will but you did not name an administrator.

Most estates are rather straight forward; however, there can be complications if your tangible and intangible properties lie in different states with different probate codes. The probate will take place where the assets are located, so your out-of-state property will be probated in the state where it is located, and your stock portfolio and bank accounts will be probated in your home state.

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