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Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. There are several different types of probate administration in Texas. One of the most important factors in probate is whether or not the Decedent had a valid Will. During this process, debts and claims of the Estate are paid and the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. If there is a valid Will, the assets are distributed to the surviving beneficiaries as indicated in the Will. If there is no Will or if the Will is not valid, then the assets are distributed according to Texas intestacy laws.

Probating a Will

Whether a Will needs to be probated depends on many circumstances. To best answer this question, speak to an attorney experienced in probate law to see if it is necessary to probate the Will. There may be alternatives that are available if it is appropriate in your case.

In general, the Will must be probated within four years after the date of death. If more than four years have elapsed, it still may be possible to probate the Will, but a more complicated procedure is required.

When you meet with an attorney for a probate consultation, please bring the original Will and a death certificate. Please also bring information regarding all assets owned by the deceased person (including beneficiary designation) and information regarding the deceased person's debts.

Probate without a Will

The probate process without a Will depends on the nature of the assets and debts of the Estate. In some cases, a “Determination of Heirship” may be necessary for the probate court to determine who are the heirs of the Estate. In other cases, a more simple procedure such as an “Affadavit of Heirship” or a “Small Estate Affadavit” are available. Your attorney can explain which probate procedure would be appropriate give your particular circumstances.

If you need assistance in a probate matter, please contact us to schedule an appointment. We can help you determine the best plan of action for your situation.