Starting the Texas probate process

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Estate Planning

For those who find themselves named as an executor of an estate, unless you are a lawyer, you likely wonder, “what now?” Well, if you have been named the executor, it means your loved one had a will, which will be the focus of this Arlington, Texas, post.

Do not just start giving stuff away!

Please note that prior to probate, you cannot begin to effectuate the will. Do not start giving stuff away to the heirs or selling items. The only things that can be paid for out of the estate are a plot and life insurance.

Probate application

You must file the will with the Texas Probate Court in the county where your deceased loved one died. To begin this process, you will file an Application for Probate. You have four years to file this application.

Post-application waiting period

After the application is filed, you must wait 2 weeks before you can have a probate hearing on the application, according to Texas Estates Code. During this waiting period, the County Clerk posts an application notice at the courthouse letting the community know that probate has been filed. This gives notice to anyone who may want to contest the will that they have a limited window to contest the will.

The probate hearing

After the waiting period, the Probate Judge will set a date for the probate hearing. In that hearing, the judge first recognizes the death and its own authority over that death. Next, the Donna, Texas, judge will determine whether the person who filed the application is qualified to serve as the executor. Finally, the Probate Judge determines the validity of the submitted will. Once the hearing concludes, that will can still be contested up to 2 years after it was submitted to the Texas Probate Court.

Do I need an attorney?

In many cases, yes. Texas only allows a Texas licensed attorney to represent entities or third parties in judicial proceedings, like the Probate Hearing. Since, as the executor, you are not representing yourself, but the estate, beneficiaries, heirs, etc., unless you are an attorney, you will need to retain Donna or Arlington, Texas, counsel prior to filing the application.