Probating a will in Texas usually takes less time and money than probating a will in other states as long as the will is properly written and executed. This is all the more reason to use a good estate planning attorney when getting your will made. And certainly beware of using canned forms. Missing a simple word or two can make a huge difference. And I promise you that I’m not just saying this because I’m an estate planning attorney.
But assuming the will is written appropriately and has all the necessary language, then the court should allow what is called an independent administration. This type of administration is what makes probate in Texas much more efficient and less costly than probate administrations in other states. Below is a general description of the steps that need to be taken.
1. File the application to admit the will with the probate court.
2. Post notice of the probate administration after the application is filed.
3. After a certain waiting period attend a short court hearing. At this hearing the judge will legally recognize the will and appoint an executor for independent administration. Assuming things go well this will be the only time that the executor will need to go to court during the entire probate process.
4. Immediately after the hearing the executor will get what are called letters testamentary from the county clerk. These documents serve as proof to third parties (banks, utility companies, etc.) that the executor has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the estate.
5. Put together an inventory of the estate that is filed with the court.
6. Officially notify all the beneficiaries named in the will.
7. Officially notify creditors to give them the opportunity to file claims against the estate.
8. Pay off any debts owed by the estate.
9. After the debts and expenses of the estate are paid off, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries per the terms of the will.
There are of course nuances to these steps that I did not spell out in detail, and various complications can arise depending on the facts of the particular case. But this is a general roadmap to follow for probating a will in Texas with independent administration.
If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments section below or contact me directly.