Probate and Your Estate

Last Will and Testament behind Red Pen and Wooden Gavel

What is Texas Probate?

The term probate means to "prove" the will through a proceeding usually in court. However, a will does not always exist (or is not available) and so laws are established in Texas to deal with the orderly distribution of assets to those who are entitled to inherit them, generally after being reviewed or monitored by a judge or other court-appointed person.

Estate Preparation

Each individual should prepare himself or herself for the eventual health issues and ultimate passing and assist the remaining family with many important decisions. Our firm is equipped to handle the necessary preparation of Wills, Trusts, Medical Powers of Attorney, Physician's Directives and General Durable Powers of Attorney.

What is Involved in Settling an Estate?

This involves a process which:

  • Determines what personal property and real estate (if any) is owned by the deceased person.
  • Pays any taxes or debts that the deceased person may owe (including costs of doing probate), and
  • Distributes all real and personal property which remains to the rightful beneficiaries.

All property is said to be owned by the "estate" of the deceased person and must remain so until the probate process is complete and the judge or other court-appointed person says it may be distributed.

How Long Does It Take to Settle an Estate in Texas?

The entire probate process will differ from state to state and the size and complexity of the "estate." In Texas, small estates may even avoid a formal probate when the total assets are small in value. Again, in Texas, the minimum time an estate will likely be open is probably from two months to a year; possibly more if the estate requires real property such as a home to be sold and the buyer to close escrow.

Having a will, alone, does not mean probate is unnecessary. Although a will might make the process simpler, probate is still required for assets in the deceased's name alone.