What Is Probate?
Probate is a legal procedure wherein the estate of a deceased person is administered. Probate involves collecting the decedent’s assets, dealing with the estate’s creditors, and distributing property to the legal heirs. These activities are managed by an executor (legal Will) or an administrator (no legal Will).
Probate is a process that usually begins with filing the decedent’s Will with the Court, filing for an Heirship Determination, or filing documents asking the Court to appoint an Independent Administrator.
As with any legal proceeding, there are technical aspects to probate administration:
* Creditors must be notified and legal notices published in certain probate cases.
* Executors of the Will or Administrators of the Estate must be guided in how and when to distribute assets and how to handle the debts of the estate.
* Texas is a community property state. Community property is treated differently than separate property in Texas.
* There are time factors involved in filing and objecting to claims against the estate. There may be separate procedures required in contentious probate cases.
* Estate taxes, gift taxes or inheritance taxes must be considered if the estate exceeds certain thresholds.
* Assets that have designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance or POD accounts may simply need to be transferred from the deceased to the designated beneficiaries.
* If a decedent died without a Will an Attorney ad Litem may need to be appointed by the Judge to find any lost heirs.