Probate is a legal process for transferring your estate to your beneficiaries after you pass away. The “estate” is the property you owned when you die. According to Texas law, Wills must be probated through a Texas Probate Court to ensure the estate is transferred according to the Will. If there is no Will, then the probate court transfers the estate according to the Texas Estate Code's intestacy statutes. The words “intestacy” or “intestate” refers to a loved that passed away without a Will.

What is the purpose of the probate process?

Probate has three primary purposes. First and foremost, probate ensures your estate is transferred according to your wishes as written in your Will. Additionally, probate ensures that all creditor claims are paid and taxes are collected before transferring the estate to the beneficiaries. The probate process is controlled by a Judge in the Probate Court. The Judge ensures the estate is probated timely, all debts are paid, and the rest of the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries according to the Will or the Texas intestacy rules.

Does a Will have to be probated?

The decision to probate a Will depends on the assets a loved one left behind. Generally, if the decedent owned real estate and personal property, a Will probably needs to be probated. There are other quicker, simpler, and cost-effective alternatives to probate, such as "Affidavit of Heirship" and "Probate as a Muniment of Title." I discuss these alternatives further below.