What Is Probate, and Do I Have to Do It?

Probate is a process that needs to be started when someone dies and a person is named an executor of their estate. If a person died with a will, he or she probably named an executor of the will. Without a will, the Court will appoint an administrator after a hearing. The executor ensures your will is valid and presents the court with an inventory of your property. The executor is also in charge of finding, securing, managing, and distributing your assets during the probate process, which usually only takes a few months if there is a valid Will and the proper procedures are followed.

Sometimes probate can be avoided with some planning. Some people prefer to create a Revocable Living Trust, where assets are transferred prior to death into a Trust. Also, some assets can be transferred to the new owner without probate, such as:

  • Community property with right of survivorship
  • Survivor’s benefits from an annuity
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts
  • Property held as joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • Life insurance proceeds with a beneficiary named

In Texas, most executors will pursue independent administration, because it’s usually faster, simpler, and less expensive. The executor will not have to post a bond and will not have to ask court permission before taking many steps to settle the estate.

The only way to avoid probate completely is to plan ahead. Estate planning allows you to place most of your assets in areas that can avoid probate upon your death, such as payable-on-death bank accounts or trusts. Some trusts don’t have to go through probate and can pass directly to their beneficiaries. Likewise, smaller estates are less of a problem. People who inherit without a will can prepare a simple affidavit to collect the property if the total value of the estate is $50,000 or less.

If you’re ready to begin estate planning, talk to our excellent Tyler and Mineola Texas probate lawyer. He has 30 years of experience helping people navigate the complicated world of wills, trusts, and probate. Contact us at (903) 345-0031 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment. And, if you have more questions about probate, visit our Probate FAQ page for more information.

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