What you need to know about probate in Texas

An attorney can provide valuable guidance throughout the probate process.

When most people hear the word "probate" they probably think of a long and possibly frustrating court process they may have to go though to handle the estate of a loved one. While probate issues can be challenging, with the proper knowledge and the advice of an experienced attorney the probate process can go much smoother.

What is probate?

The purpose of probate is for courts to ensure that wills are valid, a deceased person's assets are properly distributed and that all final expenses are paid. The probate court also decides the heirs of the deceased who die without a will, orders guardianships for minors and incapacitated persons, and supervises involuntary court-ordered mental health commitments.

Duties of the executor

An executor is the person who carries out the terms of the deceased's will and winds up all of the financial affairs. Executors are required to take an oath, and may need to file a bond. The executor has a considerable amount of responsibility, which makes the assistance of an attorney very valuable.

Duties of the executor vary depending on the situation but may include:

  • Locating the will, trust and estate planning documents
  • Providing notice to the deceased's creditors and beneficiaries
  • Gathering the deceased's assets
  • Providing an inventory of the estate
  • Paying all the deceased's debts
  • Notifying the IRS of the death and paying estate taxes and final income taxes
  • Distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the terms of the will
  • Establishing a guardian for minor children if necessary
  • Handling funeral expenses

An attorney can assist the executor throughout these steps, and provide guidance about how best to proceed based on the specific circumstances.

Probate litigation

Disputes that arise during the probate process may require litigation. Examples of these types of matters include:

  • Property disputes
  • Will contests
  • Disputes regarding testamentary capacity
  • Claims of improper distribution of assets
  • Claims of missing assets
  • Claims of executor or trustee negligence

Consult with an attorney

If you are an executor or otherwise involved in a probate matter, an attorney's assistance is extremely valuable. Robert Avera focuses a significant amount of his practice on probate matters. He knows what needs to be done to resolve cases in the best interests of his clients. Contact the firm today to receive the guidance you need to navigate through the probate process.

Keywords: probate, estate planning