What is Probate?
By Tracy Kasparek Elaguizy
Probate is the process of re-titling assets from the Decedent’s name into the beneficiaries’ or heirs’ names, as well as paying the debts of the Decedent and settling their Estate. Texas has one of the most efficient and cost effective probate systems in the nation. That being said, whether you have a properly drafted Last Will and Testament will determine how cost effective and efficient the probate process actually goes in your particular circumstance.
For instance, the differential in initial filing fees and publication costs in Travis County in having a Will versus not having a Will is approximately $800.00. In addition, if you do not have a Will, the state basically decides who will receive your property, and who will be in charge of your Estate based upon a statutory preference.
Regardless of whether there is a Will, the probate process begins when an application for probate that is filed with the court in the county where the Decedent resided. The application will have to post on file for 10-20 days depending upon the type of application. The posting period is a waiting period until the application can be acted upon. Once the posting period is up, if everything has been properly filed, a hearing can be set to appoint an Executor or Administrator for the Estate.
The Executor or Administrator of the Estate will have the authority to act on behalf of the Estate. An Executor is a person named in the Will to serve as such. An Administrator is a person appointed by the Court when there is not a person named in the Will able to serve, or there is no Will. After the hearing, the Executor or Administrator, with the help of an attorney, will begin to notify creditors and beneficiaries that an Estate for the Decedent has been opened.
In most instances, an Inventory of the Estate will be prepared, which is a document filed with the Court listing all of the assets of the Estate. After the Estate’s debts and taxes have been paid, notices and other documents have been filed with the Court, and distributions to beneficiaries have been made, the Estate can be closed. Of course, every Estate and circumstance is different, so it is best to consult an attorney for your particular probate needs.*
*The content in this article is meant for general informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.