This article will explain the probate process in Texas. We will answer some of the most commonly asked questions.
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What is Probate?
Probate is a judicial or legal process held in a probate court. The court reviews a will and confirms it is original and valid.
The term “probate” can be used to a general session or administering of the will of a deceased person, or their estate. This applies even when they did not leave a will.
The administrator chosen by the court collects assets and pays any outstanding liabilities.
Administrators are usually people who were closest to the asset-holder. Administrators can renounce the responsibility and the right transfers to another associate.
The individuals must also distribute assets left to all named beneficiaries. If they have not been named, an executor can determine who they will be.
How to Probate a Will in Texas
Probating a will in Texas can either be straightforward, or complex. It all depends on the size of the estate, as well as its nature.
The Texan county of the testator (the individual who wrote the will) or where they lived before they died may also be important.
Courts in Texas use the county to determine whether the will’s executor must have a lawyer.
If the testator lived in a particular metro area, the probate process runs by The Statutory Probate Court.
For testators who lived in rural areas, the Constitutional County Court oversees the probate procedure.
Below are the five major steps to probate a will in Texas.
Submission of The Will
The first step of probating a will in Texas is submitting the will to the probate court clerk.
Submit the probate application form, and state the time, date and place where the testator died. You should include a clear description of the estate or property.
Disclose the full names of any children born after they wrote the will. State if the testator had gone through a divorce.
After you submit the probate application, there is a two-week wait period. The clerk submits it to the court and the court authenticates the will. They will then determine if the probate is necessary.
During the two-week wait period, anyone who objects to the will, must speak with the court.
Anyone who is against the executor’s appointment should speak with the court.
The First Court Hearing
When the two-week wait period ends, you should attend a court hearing. After the clerk notifies the probate court about the application, the appointment for the court hearing is set.
The judge will appoint you as the executor if he feels you are the best fit for the job. No one must show up to oppose your appointment.
He must enter the court order that allows you to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
Identify the Assets Going Through Probate
A clear list of the assets that were owned by the testator must be submitted during the probate process in Texas.
These include all things whose beneficiary was not named in the will. Examples are real estate assets as well as retirement benefits.
The court gives you 90 days to file once you confirm the inventory is accurate.
Find the Testator's Liabilities
You must identify all outstanding creditors. Publishing a notice in Texas’ most read newspapers is recommended.
Such notices must have your name and your current address. You can include your contact information and the estate’s lawyer, if you have hired one.
Inform the creditors to present their claims against the testator’s estate quickly.
After you receive the claims, you can accept and agree to pay the money. You can reject the claims and decline to make the required payments.
If the estate owes outstanding taxes, the expenses for the property must be filed and paid.
The Second Hearing
After identifying the testator’s and estate’s debts, pay the expenses and inform the probate court. You must submit an accurate accounting document showing the payments.
You should send a request that grants you permission to distribute the assets to the correct beneficiaries. The court decides when the second hearing should be.
At least 15 days before the hearing, you must notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors, so they arrive on time. In Texas, you are free to do it via mail.
The judge signs an order that allows the allocation of assets or estates to each named beneficiary. You have to correctly file the necessary paperwork.
File for the final discharge with the probate court, and make sure it is received to mark the end of probate.
Cost to Probate a Will in Texas
Many people ask us about the cost of probating a will in Texas. In most cases, you will pay less than $300 to file for the process. Although, there will be other expenses as probate progresses.
Independent administration is an easier way to probate a will in Texas.
The administrators and executors work without the scrutiny of the probate court.
As a result, this helps minimize costs.
In Texas, there are two costs in probating a will: attorney’s fees and court costs. The amount you pay your lawyer will depend on the time they spend helping you probate the will.
Other factors that determine the cost of hiring a probate lawyer are their years of experience, and their hourly rate. You are free to negotiate with your attorney if you intend to spend less on the process.
The sooner the two of you agree on a fair rate, the sooner you can start the probate process.
Similarly, when considering the cost of probating a will in Texas, remember the dependent administration process.
It is typically more expensive than the independent administration. This is due to the probate court having more control over the process.
Furthermore, there are court hearings and filings that must be completed. You will need a lawyer to assist you to file the necessary bonds.
Most noteworthy, Dependent administration in Texas will take longer due to process.
The probate court must authorize payments and your right to sell assets.
Finally, accounting fees are another cost to consider. They are dependent on the types of assets and the total value of the estate.
Furthermore, if the estate is taxed at the Federal level, the fee will cover the price of preparing and filing the property’s tax returns.
Do All Estates and Assets Need to Go Through Probate in Texas?
Most estates and assets have to go through probate in Texas. Exemptions apply to community properties that have survivorship rights and also joint tenancy assets.
In addition, certain bank accounts which are payable after the owner’s death may also be exempt.
When is Probating a Will in Texas Not Necessary?
The probate process is common in Texas, but not always necessary.
Examples are when assets are non-probate and their ownership are transferred smoothly to the named beneficiary.
More specific examples are below:
- Bank accounts which are payable after death
- Finances from any life insurance policies
- Any community assets which are also held with survivorship rights
- Property, with the right of survivorship, that is held as a joint tenancy
- Any survivor benefits that are as a result of annuity
What Happens When a Will is Not Probated?
You can save your family’s time and money by avoiding probate in Texas.
Below are some of the most popular ways to avoid probate in Texas:
A Living Trust
Making a living trust can protect your loved ones from going through probate.
A trust can be used for all assets such as bank accounts, vehicles and real estate.
You must name the person (successor trustee) that will take over as the trustee when you die.
After you have made your living trust, transfer the property’s ownership to yourself, the trust’s trustee.
The terms named in the trust will be used to manage the property after your death.
The successor trustee will transfer ownership to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
Bank Account Payable-On-Death (POD) Designations
You can prevent probate in Texas by adding “payable-on-death” designations to your bank accounts.
They could be your certificate of deposits or savings accounts. You are in full control of the cash in the account.
Also, beneficiaries you have listed will have no legal right to your money until you have passed on.
Your POD beneficiary must contact the bank in Texas to claim the accounts. The advantage of bank account POD designations in Texas is that they are easy to create.
Most importantly, no one can limit the amount of money you pass on to your beneficiary.
There are no costs to create POD designations which also makes it less complicated for heirs to get their inheritance.
Transfer-On-Death Car Registration
This is another simple way to avoid probate in Texas.
Transfer-on-death registration for your vehicle allows you to list the heir who will inherit the vehicle as soon as you die.
It happens automatically, and the probate process is unnecessary.
Transfer-On-Death Real Estate Deeds
If you want to leave your real estate assets to someone in Texas without probate, you can have transfer-on-death deeds. These deeds are also known as beneficiary deeds.
You have to sign the real-estate deed and record it. In this case, it will only be valid after you pass away.
While you are alive, you can revoke the document or sell the property. The heir does not have a say in the issue.
In Texas, there is also a “Lady Bird” deed which some people call an enhanced life estate deed.
The purpose is similar to that of a transfer-on-death deed. It is not as common, but you can always seek the advice of a lawyer whenever you need to use it.
Joint Ownership of Property
There are millions of entrepreneurs in Texas who own property jointly with another person.
In such instances, the “right of survivorship” exists and becomes effective when one of the owners dies.
The surviving one automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. Even though some paperwork has to be done to make it official, probate is unnecessary.
In Texas, joint ownership (with the right of ownership) comes in two forms. These are:
Survivorship Community Property
This is applicable where a married couple decides to own their property together, and sign an agreement to confirm that.
It prevents the process of probate because when one spouse dies, the other one becomes the legal owner of the named assets.
Joint tenancy in Texas is established when the owners of a specific property sign an agreement to prove so. They have to own an equal share of the assets.
When one owner dies, the one who survives becomes the property’s owner, automatically. Even so, the living co-owner has to live for a minimum of five days more than the one who passed on first as stipulated by the Tex. Estates Code sec 121.152.
Joint tenancy works pretty well for couples who want to avoid the probate procedure after one of the spouses dies. They can acquire various types of property jointly.
Examples include bank accounts, real estate, cars and any other valuable assets.
In Texas, it is not legal to register your bonds and stocks using transfer-on-death forms.
Can You Sell A House in Texas While In Probate?
Yes! You can sell a house that is still in probate in Texas, but the process is complicated, and will require a lot of your time.
You must follow several steps as instructed by the court, and the will’s beneficiaries, executor, prospect house buyers, and creditors must be involved.
Anyone who opposes the will should also be informed about the details of each step.
To succeed, you ought to look for an experienced and exceptional probate attorney to help you.
With the lawyer, you can easily abide by all the court and state’s rules and regulations.
You will also understand the entire procedure better, and make the sale as expected after the court has accepted the highest bid made.
How We Can Help You
DFW Professional Home Buyers provides solutions for inheritors of real estate all across Texas.
With all the maintenance and upkeep fees that come with inheriting a property, in some cases, selling quickly is the best solution for everyone involved.
However, selling to a traditional buyer can be costly.
Costs associated with repairs, inspections and more can add up to thousands of dollars.
Some homeowners may not be in a situation to allocate the money necessary for these fees. In these cases, selling to DFW Professional Home Buyers could be the best decision for you and other beneficiaries of the property.
If you think you can’t sell your house because of selling costs, DFW Professional Home Buyers can help make selling your inherited property easier than you may think.
DFW Professional Home Buyers can pay cash and close quickly to help you reduce your attorney’s fees, utilities, taxes, mortgage payments and other costs associated with the property.
If DFW Professional Home Buyers purchases your property, you will also be able to avoid repairs or fix-ups on the property and save the time and expense of a real estate agent. We will buy the house AS IS.
Factors to consider
Below are some potential fees of carrying, maintaining and selling an inherited house or property:
- Property Taxes
- Home Insurance
- Mortgage, Principal; Interest
- Utilities / Yard Maintenance
Consider these costs when you are deciding to sell or keep an inherited property.
DFW Professional Home Buyers works with inheritors in a variety of situations. We provide solutions for inheritors with wills that are probated, wills that are not probated and heirs that have no will.
These flexible solutions offer most inheritors the quick solutions they are looking for. We respond quickly, respect your time and your situation. Contact us today at 817-442-7702 for personalized service.