After the loss of a loved one, you may experience emotional duress, grief and other emotions as you navigate the weeks and months after the death. Even when expecting a passing, a loss can significantly impact you and the rest of your Texas family. Eventually, it will be time for you and your loved ones to settle the estate of the decedent — a task that can be overwhelming, especially during an emotionally complex time.
The administration of an estate often involves probate. Whether you are an heir of the estate, beneficiary of an account or tasked with the responsibility of settling the estate, you will benefit from knowing what to expect from probate. This process can take months to complete, or even years if there are issues, and having appropriate expectations and knowledge can ensure you avoid unnecessary setbacks and complications at each step of the process.
The legal requirements of probate
Probate is the legal process of verifying the will. Before it is permissible to distribute assets from an estate, many of them must go through the probate process. One exception to this is when there are assets held in a trust. The first step in the probate process is to locate the will and file it, along with other required documents, with the appropriate probate court. This opens the estate, and after that, you may expect the following to happen:
- The probate court will appoint an executor of the estate. This person is responsible for overseeing the entire process and managing the estate. The decedent may have named his or her executor in the will.
- The executor will locate assets and secure them, and then he or she will notify creditors that have a rightful claim to payment from the estate.
- The executor will oversee the payment of remaining debts and final tax returns, and then he or she will ensure the distribution of estate assets to designated heirs as outlined in the decedent’s will.
Probate can be lengthy and complex, especially if there are issues with the estate, difficulties with assets associated with the estate or disputes over the terms of the will. It may be in your interests to have assistance with every step of the probate process in order to prevent issues, reduce the chance of setbacks and provide assurance to everyone with an interest in the estate.