Probate may be one of the most confusing aspects of estate planning. Some see it as an important legal process, and others do everything possible to avoid it. The average estate will go through probate, which proves the validity of your will, verifies the identity of your heirs and provides time for your creditors to claim what you may owe. While all of this is important, the process is slow, and this means your heirs may spend months or longer dealing with it.
Perhaps your parent created a will some time ago, and you agreed to serve as its executor. Now that your parent passed away, you just aren't up for the job. Do you have to serve anyway? Do you even have to file the will with the court?
The fact is that the majority of people here in Texas and across the country die without either an adequate will or a will at all. This means that a surviving family member will need to step up and take control of settling the decedent's estate. If you fulfill this role, you will be required to take several steps in order to accomplish that goal.
It is likely with great sorrow that you said goodbye to your parents. Perhaps you have reached the age where many of your friends are losing their parents, and you knew it wouldn't be long before you experienced the loss yourself.
Estate law experts estimate that in Texas and across the country, about $30 trillion will pass from parents to children and grandchildren through inheritances over the next few decades. While you may not have $30 trillion to leave behind for your children, whatever you leave may be a windfall for some of your heirs. It may also be a source of contention.
Many Texas residents may not think that they need a will since their largest assets, their home, retirement plan and life insurance policy will all pass to heirs without the need for probate. For instance, spouses usually own homes as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, which means the surviving spouse owns the home outright after the death of the other owner.
Taking on the role of estate executor for a friend or family member may seem daunting. The many legal and personal factors involved can seem bewildering, and it is understandable that you would have questions and concerns about doing the right thing and meeting deadlines.
After a loved one dies, having the responsibility to close his or her estate may fall to you. If your family member named you executor of the estate, you will have many duties to carry out in order to ensure that you address your loved one's wishes appropriately and that any outstanding personal and financial issues get resolved as necessary. In order to begin carrying out the necessary tasks, you will need to go through the probate process.