Frequently Asked Questions - Probate
What happens when a will is probated?
If a Decedent's estate requires an administration, and there is a will, an Application for Probate
of Will and Issuance of Letters Testamentary is filed. After a posting period, a Court hearing is
held to consider appointment of the Executor of the will.
What is an Executor?
The Executor (Executrix if a female) is the person designated in a will to distribute the estate.
This person is usually the applicant requesting the Court to accept the will as valid in a probate
proceeding. Texas has the existence of an "Independent Executor". This means once the
Independent Executor is appointed by the Court, and this person has the freedom to distribute
the estate free of Court supervision.
Once appointed, what does the Executor do?
The Executor has the general fiduciary responsibilities of (1) gathering the assets of the person
who died, (2) paying their debts, and (3) distributing the remaining assets to those entitled to
them under the terms of the Will. In addition, the Executor has some statutory responsibilities,
including having a notice to creditors printed in a newspaper and filing an Inventory of the
Estate. These responsibilities are addressed more specifically in the Texas Estates Code.
What are Letters Testamentary?
Letters Testamentary is the document the Executor receives from the Clerk showing their
authority to access the Decedent's property and estate. It is the tool used to gather all of the
Decedent's estate for distribution.
When must a will be filed for probate?
Generally you have four years to file a will for probate.
Must all wills be probated?
Not necessarily. It depends on what is in the decedent's estate. Non-probate assets, such as
financial accounts with right of survivorship, financial accounts payable on death, and life
insurance policies with a living beneficiary, pass regardless of the terms of a will or the existence
of a will.
I heard probate proceedings are difficult. Is this true?
Because of the existence of an Independent Executor, Texas has a relatively simple probate
What happens if someone dies without a will?
Administration proceedings are still available depending on the Decedent's estate. If the estate is
relatively small, a Small Estate Affidavit may be an option. There is also the Declaration of
Heirship proceeding and Administration proceedings. Sometimes a proceeding in Probate Court
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