It can always be difficult when a loved one dies. Not only do close relatives have to go through the emotions and grief of the situation but they also start to worry about the legal issues that need to be resolved in the aftermath of the death of their loved one. And, for many people, those legal challenges are a complete mystery. “Probate” is a “legalese”-type of term that many people in Texas are simply unfamiliar with.
So, what is “probate”? At its simplest, probate is the process by which a person’s estate is identified and marshaled, and then taxes and debts are paid and the estate is distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. Often, this process is guided by the deceased person’s will and other estate planning documents—if they exist. If, however, a person dies “intestate”—without a will—the probate process is guided by state law on how the estate is to be divided and distributed.
If there is a will, another important part of the probate process is to establish the validity of that will. Sometimes, there could be challenges to the validity of a will. For example, some family members might challenge the “testamentary capacity” of the person who made the will—meaning there is a belief that the person didn’t have the ability, mentally, to dictate the terms of a will properly. That is just one example of a possible challenge to a will.
Getting through probate
In the end, your path through probate will be somewhat unique. At our law firm, we do our best to help our clients get through probate as smoothly as possible. For more information, please visit the probate and estate administration overview section of our law firm’s website.