Do I Need to Probate my Will?
3 min read

Do I Need to Probate my Will?

What does it mean to probate a Will? Is it necessary to probate my Will? In this article, we'll outline everything you need to know about the probate process! Keep reading to learn more!

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Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It is a process that is used to validate their Last Will and Testament, settle their debts, and distribute their assets to beneficiaries or heirs. In Texas, as in many other states, probate may not always be required, depending on various factors. In this article, we will explore when it is necessary to probate a will in Texas and when alternative options may be available.

1. When the Decedent Owned Real Estate Solely

One common scenario that typically necessitates probate in Texas is when the
person who passed away owned real estate solely in their name. This includes properties such as homes, land, or commercial real estate. To transfer ownership of these assets to heirs or beneficiaries, probate is usually required. However, there are some exceptions, such as if the property qualifies for a small estate affidavit (discussed later in this article).

2. When There Are Significant Debts or Creditors

If the deceased person left behind significant debts or creditors, probate becomes essential in Texas. During the probate process, creditors are provided an opportunity to make claims against the estate. The executor or personal representative must ensure that all valid debts are paid from the estate's assets before distributing them to beneficiaries.

3. When There Is No Beneficiary Designation on Certain Assets

Assets like bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and brokerage accounts often allow individuals to designate beneficiaries. When there are valid beneficiary designations in place, these assets bypass probate and go directly to the designated beneficiaries. However, if there is no beneficiary designation or if the designated beneficiaries have predeceased the account holder, these assets may need to go through probate.

4. When There Is No Valid Will (Intestate Succession)

If the person who died did not have a valid Will, their estate would be subject to intestate succession laws in Texas. Intestate succession determines how assets are distributed among surviving relatives, such as spouses, children, parents, and siblings. In such cases, probate is necessary to ensure the assets are distributed according to state law.

5. When the Estate Meets the Small Estate Affidavit Criteria

In Texas, estates with a total value of $75,000 or less (excluding homestead property and exempt property) may qualify for a simplified probate process known as a Small Estate Affidavit. This option allows for a faster and less costly method of transferring assets without the need for a formal probate proceeding. However, specific requirements must be met before a person can utilize the Small Estate Affidavit.

6. When a Beneficiary Disputes the Will or Administration

In some situations, beneficiaries or interested parties may contest the validity of the Will or the actions of the executor or personal representative. When disputes arise, probate may be necessary to address and resolve these conflicts through the legal process.

7. When Real Property Is Part of a Joint Tenancy or Tenancy by the Entirety

If real property is held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship or as tenancy
by the entirety, it typically passes to the surviving joint owner(s) outside of probate.
However, if all joint tenants have passed away or if the decedent was the sole owner at
the time of death, probate may be necessary to transfer the property to the appropriate
heirs or beneficiaries. Understanding Probate in Texas Probate in Texas is not always required, but it largely depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the decedent's estate. When assets are owned solely by the decedent, significant debts exist, there is no valid Will, or other criteria apply, probate becomes necessary to settle the estate. However, there are situations where alternative methods, like the Small Estate Affidavit or beneficiary designations, can streamline the process. To navigate these situations, FastWill has consulted with Texas lawyers who are experienced in the probate process. Our platform can provide guidance tailored to your circumstances and goals.

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