Probate brings up plenty of worries for a decedent’s heirs. For one, they may worry that creditor debt collection during probate will leave them with no assets, threatening their financial stability, especially if the decedent was the family’s main provider. Fortunately, the law ensures their protection by setting aside a part of the estate.
Properties exempt from debt collection
Though a decedent’s estate must pay for valid creditor claims following the payment priority order set by law, it does not mean the personal representative can use every asset in the estate as payment. Under Texas probate laws, some estate properties are not subject to creditor claims, including the following properties:
- The family homestead
- Home furnishings, including family heirlooms
- Farming or ranching vehicles and equipment
- Jewelry under certain limitations
- Certain animals for consumption
These exemptions allow the decedent’s surviving family to maintain their necessities.
High payment priority for family allowance
Texas laws prioritize the payment of family allowances for the decedent’s surviving spouse and children, placing them in higher priority compared to other claims to the estate. This provides the surviving heirs maintenance allowance for at least one year after their loved one’s death.
Understand and protect heir rights
Heirs who know little about the probate process may find themselves in a state of confusion and helplessness. Awareness of the law and their rights can help ease those worries. Aside from knowing their rights, it is also helpful to know the bounds of the estate’s personal representative to ensure they are effectively performing their duty.