Probate is a legal procedure in which a court recognizes a person's death and approves the initiation of the administration of that person's estate. This process occurs whether or not the deceased had a last will and testament when he/she passed away.
Understanding the Process
In the state of Texas, when someone dies with a valid will, assuming an administration is necessary, an application to probate the will must be filed in a court of jurisdiction, the will must be proven valid in court, and an executor must be appointed by the court.
In the state of Texas, when someone dies without a valid will, assuming an administration is necessary, an application for a determination of heirship and request for administration must be filed in a court of jurisdiction, the statutory heirs must be determined by the court, and an administrator must be appointed by the court.
Probate Administration Tools
Judicial Determination of Heirship
While a Judicial Determination of Heirship does avoid formal Probate proceedings, this particular option can be very expensive and time-consuming. This process is possible when a person dies without a will, and it can be used for all types of assets. An application is filed with the Probate Court, and then the Court appoints an independent attorney to find and represent unknown heirs if any exist. When this investigation is complete, there is a hearing in the Probate Court to make a final determination on distribution of assets. While process is technically an alternative to Probate, it is still quite sluggish and costly.
Small Estate Affidavit
A Small Estate Administration or Small Estate Affidavit is a process often used to avoid formal Probate proceedings, but there are certain requirements for this tool to be used. The estate of the decedent must be $50,000 or less, and there are certain documents that need to be filed with the Probate Court. There are no court hearings required, but there are certain statutory requirements that can be complicated, so please contact a Davidson Law Group attorney to learn more about this option.
Muniment of Title
Muniment of Title is most often used when a person passes away with a will, the estate has very few assets, and there are no debts owed by the estate. In this situation, the will is filed as a public record for Muniment of Title only, so there is still some interaction with the Probate Court even though it avoids full Probate proceedings. As with most alternatives to Probate, there are very specific requirements for Muniment of Title. If you or a loved one is facing Probate, it is imperative that you contact an attorney at Davidson Law Group to help guide you through this process.
Don't Walk Alone
The attorneys at Davidson Law Group will do everything possible to help our clients avoid the lengthy and costly process of Probate. We know that every individual and family is different, and we will work to customize a plan that works best for you and your loved ones. Regardless of which road you choose to take, you will need the help of an expert to guide you through this process. Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.