The average adult in Texas doesn’t know much about the probate process until they find themselves grieving a loved one. When a close loved one passes away, people often receive a crash course in probate proceedings as they wait to receive their inheritance or prepare to manage the estate administration process.
Some people benefit from a testator’s careful prior planning that provides very clear instructions about what should happen with their property and how they intend to support their loved ones. For some people, however, the process seems much more intimidating in part because the decedent failed to leave behind a will or other testamentary documents. Others may have less certainty about what they need to do because they are unable to locate a will or other testamentary documents.
Texas law dictates the process for intestate estates
Someone who dies without a will has died intestate. What can that mean for the person in charge of their probate proceedings and surviving loved ones? Texas has intestate succession laws that clearly explain what should happen to someone’s personal property if they die without a will. The representative of the estate will largely follow the same procedures they would follow with any other estate.
They will need to submit paperwork to the probate courts and notify the courts that there is no will or other testamentary documents. They will need to send notice to creditors and then settle the testator’s outstanding personal obligations. Finally, they will distribute the assets as outlined in Texas law, usually with a focus on the spouse and children of the decedent. If someone does not have any children or a spouse, then their parents or other close family members might inherit from their estate.
A representative managing an intestate estate will need to take great care that they do not allow their personal biases to influence how they distribute assets, as they will need to abide by Texas state statutes or risk removal from their position.
Oftentimes, those responsible for the administration of an estate, particularly when there are challenging elements, like the lack of a will, may want to have a lawyer guide them through the process so that they do not make any mistakes that might lead to legal challenges or personal financial liability. Knowing what to expect during estate administration can make it much easier for people to avoid oversights and errors that could lead to probate litigation and other frustrating experiences.