Do You Need A Lawyer To Probate A Will In Texas
People named as independent executors for a Will do not always know how to probate the Will. Fortunately, they can hire an experienced estate planning lawyer to represent them in probate matters. In fact, most courts in Texas expect you to hire an attorney if you are an independent executor because an executor also represents the interests of beneficiaries and creditors. The courts have this view because they believe that only a licensed attorney is allowed to represent others in court. There are few situations where an executor can probate a Will without being represented by an attorney.
Terms And Their Meaning
The first things you need to understand before probating a Will is the meaning of the following legal terms:
- Estate: Texas defines an estate as all of the decedent’s assets and they include real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, insurance policies, vehicles, cash, personal belongings and more.
- Decedent: A decedent is the person who has died and whose estate is in the probate process.
- Will: It is a legal document where the decedent outlines how the decedent’s assets should be distributed among family, heirs and beneficiaries.
- Beneficiaries: Generally means loved ones of the deceased.
- Executor: The person named in a Will and given responsibility to distribute assets from the estate to beneficiaries according to instructions in the Will. They also have to catalogue the decedent’s assets, and pay debts and taxes of the estate.
Probating A Will
The first thing you need to do is file an application with the probate court. The application must include information such as the date of death, the name and address of the deceased, and identities of the heirs. After filing, submit a copy of the Will to the court. A clerk Will put up a notice of your application and after two weeks there will be a hearing before the probate judge. The judge determines whether the executor named in the Will is qualified to serve. In a situation where the deceased did not leave a Will, the judge can appoint an executor. Most courts in Texas require the executor to have an attorney.
Inventory Of Assets
Once the executor is approved by the court, they can start the process of cataloguing and reporting all the assets held in the estate. This will be a time consuming process because the executor will have to go through the deceased’s papers, to identify financial accounts and people or entities that owed the deceased money. After cataloguing the property, the executor can then file an inventory of all the assets with the probate court. An executor only has 90 days to do this, which is 90 days from the day the executor is named to the day they file the inventory with the court.
Beneficiaries And Creditors
The executor must then notify the beneficiaries of the estate if the decedent had a Will. After this they can start paying of bills and debts of decedent using assets from the estate. A lawyer representing the executor can file a Notice to Creditors, to notify them of the death. The creditors will be paid using assets from the estate.
Once all disputes have been resolved then the executor can begin distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.