Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person and transferring assets to the proper heirs. It generally involves petitioning the Court to appoint a personal representative, called an “Executor” or an “Administrator”. Once appointed, this person becomes responsible for managing the estate.
State law, local court rules and the terms of the Will govern the representative’s actions and decisions in this process. It can be complex and confusing for those who are not experienced with it. Accordingly, most probate courts in Texas require a personal representative to be represented by a qualified attorney. The role of a personal representative is a fiduciary role – meaning that the personal representative is accountable to the Court, the heirs and the creditors for the manner in which they manage estate affairs. They may incur personal legal liability if they make a mistake. Therefore, we urge all potential estate representatives to seek competent legal advice. Mistakes made during the probate process can be costly and sometimes irreversible.
Basic Tasks involved in Probate
There are several different types of probate. The type of probate needed will depend on many factors – including the size of the estate, the type of assets held by the estate, whether or not the estate owes any debts and whether or not there is a valid Will. Generally, however, the probate process includes: