When a loved one passes away, family members, heirs and beneficiaries are left with the responsibility of taking care of his or her estate. Settling and eventually closing a Texas estate on behalf of the deceased can be a complex process, and part of that may involve probate. Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a last will and testament, and in many cases, it is a requirement in order to distribute the assets associated with the estate.
The steps of the probate process
Every estate is unique and different, but probate follows the same basic steps in every case. If the deceased had a will, he or she likely named a person to act as the executor, which is the person who will oversee the probate process and its requirements. The steps of probate typically include:
- Locating and filing the will, along with other documents, with the local probate court
- Locating assets associated with the estate and determining their value
- Identifying and notifying creditors with an interest in the estate
- Paying remaining debts and filing final tax returns
- Distributing estate assets according to the terms of the will
Depending on the complexity of the estate, probate can take a few months up to several years to complete.
Protecting interests during probate
Probate can be a complex legal process, but a Texas family does not have to walk through it alone. There is a benefit in working with an experienced estate law attorney at every step, providing guidance and representing the interests of loved ones and beneficiaries. Legal counsel is also important for the individual acting as the executor as this is an immense and complicated responsibility.