When someone passes away in Texas, what happens to the estate? Who handles the distribution of the estateâ€™s assets, pays off debts, and handles any issues that arise? Estates pass through the probate process in Texas, where the court supervises the settlement of the estate and manages any questions or challenges that come up during the process. The Law Offices of Brian Hill have helped many clients manage the probate process in Dallas and can help you navigate the probate process in Texas.
How Does Probate in Texas Work?
The probate process begins when a person passes away and leaves their estate to their heirs. A person is appointed to distribute the estate, either in the will or by the probate court, and is known as the executor. The executor collects and distributes all assets of the estate, pays creditors, and handles all lingering issues connected to the estate. The probate process allows the court to oversee the management of the estate to avoid any issues of fraud, deceit, or outright looting of the deceasedâ€™s estate. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, as well as whether anyone is contesting the validity of the estate plan, the probate process can take weeks to years to fully handle a single personâ€™s estate in Texas.
What is Exempt from the Probate Process?
Not all estates are required to go through the probate process, and some types of assets are exempt from the probate process, as well. If an estateâ€™s total assets fall below a certain threshold, it can be exempt from the Texas probate process as a â€œsmall estate.â€ Texas law defines a small estate as one that has less than $50,000 in assets, not including homestead and exempt property, and there is no will. An estate can also be labeled a small estate if the total assets do not exceed what is necessary to pay off creditors to the estate.
In addition, certain assets are not subject to the probate process in Texas. If an asset transfers ownership automatically at death, it is exempt from the process. Examples of assets that do not pass through the probate process in Texas include any property held in joint tenancy, property held in tenancy by the entirety or with a right to survivorship, assets with beneficiary designations, and payable on death and transferable on death accounts.
One final exception to the probate process is an independent administration of the estate. This allows for the estate to be distributed without oversight by the court if it is stipulated in the will or if all beneficiaries to the estate agree to the independent administration. However, depending on the specifics of the estate, some matters may still require court oversight in their handling.
Call or Contact Our Office
If you have questions about the probate process in Texas, call or contact the Law Offices of Brian Hill PLLC in Dallas to schedule a free consultation of your case.