What is Probate?
Texas law sets out a court supervised process to conclude the affairs of a person after death. This process is known as “probate”. The two key steps in this process are set out below.
Probating a Will. This is the process in which a judge determines if the deceased person had a will and, if under Texas law, it is a valid will. If multiple wills are produced, generally the court decides which will is the valid one. If there is only one will and it is properly prepared, this process is fairly simple and straightforward.
Administrating an Estate. The process of managing and distributing the decedent’s assets is called the administration of the estate. In some cases, usually in very small estates, administration may not be needed. The following steps are performed during the administration of an estate:
- Appointment of a personal representative.
- Identifying and preserving property owned by the deceased.
- Paying all legal obligations (including expenses, debts, and taxes of the deceased) and filing any necessary tax returns.
- Distribution of remaining assets (other than non-testamentary assets) of the deceased (either according to a valid will or, in the absence of a valid will, under the state laws called the Texas Intestacy Statutes).
What is the role of a personal representative?
A personal representative, called an executor (if there is a valid will) or administrator (in the absence of a valid will), is appointed by a judge. It is the personal representative’s job to see that the steps listed above are carried out as the law requires in a timely manner.
Does a personal representative need legal assistance?
The rules of the probate process not only require that a number of actions be taken in a timely fashion, but also that special care be given with regard to the property of the deceased (the estate). A personal representative has a legal duty to perform these actions properly and can be held liable if care is not taken. If the personal representative has not performed this role in the past, an attorney can advise the personal representative of his or her duties and provide assistance in carrying out those duties.
If you have been named a personal representative, I can help you fulfill your legal duties.
I will take care of much of the work that needs to be done, and can answer any questions that you may have concerning your fiduciary obligations and the administration of the estate.
I would invite you to call me at your earliest convenience so that I can work with you to ensure that all proper actions are timely taken.