Protecting Your Legacy

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Probate & Estate Administration
  4.  » How does the Texas probate process work?

How does the Texas probate process work?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Probate & Estate Administration |

Families often have a lengthy grieving process ahead when someone dies. It can take years to work through the emotions inspired by someone’s passing. Surviving family members also have to handle numerous practical challenges while dealing with the emotional devastation of a loved one’s death.

Preparing for a funeral and overseeing probate proceedings can require time and attention from those already dealing with a difficult situation. Probate proceedings generally require the oversight or support of one person who intends to serve as the personal representative of the estate. The rest of the family may need to wait until they complete that process to receive their inheritance.

What can families generally expect during probate proceedings?

The courts oversee estate administration

With rare exceptions for small estates that do not contain real property, most Texas estates require formal probate court oversight. If there is a will or other estate planning paperwork, the courts generally review those documents. They then affirm the appointment of a personal representative, although sometimes that process may take several weeks.

The personal representative must then begin the formal estate administration process. The steps involved in estate administration may include filing tax returns, sending written notice to creditors and securing estate resources. In some cases, personal representatives must conduct estate sales or liquidate estate holdings to pay creditors.

After giving those with an interest in the estate an opportunity to make reimbursement requests in probate court, the personal representative of the estate can then distribute what remains among the beneficiaries of the estate. If there are no major challenges, basic probate proceedings may require anywhere from six to 12 months to complete.

Larger estates and those that face conflict may require more time to resolve. Probate litigation sometimes occurs because of disagreements about the personal representative’s actions. Other times, family members may question the validity of estate planning documents. Litigation can significantly increase how long it takes to complete the probate process. Lawsuits against an estate can also consume estate resources and diminish how much the personal representative has to repay creditors or distribute among beneficiaries.

Mistakes during the probate process can sometimes lead to personal liability for the representative overseeing estate administration. Therefore, it is common practice for people to obtain legal representation and to carefully comply with state law to protect themselves.

Knowing what to expect during Texas probate proceedings may help people feel more comfortable about estate administration or understand when they may eventually receive their inheritance. While Texas probate proceedings may take a long time to resolve, the involvement of the courts can help to protect the interests of everyone with an interest in the estate.