Ruth-Ann E. Toups
What Is Probate and Do I Need It?
Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. In simpler terms, probate allows a person (often called an executor) to step into someone’s shoes who has passed away and carry out any necessary business. The probate process is handled in a court, although we do not always have to go to court. In Texas, there are many different forms of probate available based on your specific circumstances.
We don’t know whether probate will be needed until someone passes away. Whether or not probate is required is determined by the deceased person’s remaining assets. Generally, if someone dies leaving real property (a house, a piece of land, etc.) probate will likely be required, unless the real property was in a trust. Additionally, if a financial account does not have a beneficiary the institution may require a probate proceeding to determine who takes control of the bank account.
Although the process is slightly different, probate occurs whether we have a will or we do not have a will. Our assets at the time of death determines whether or not we need probate.
Probate in Texas can be simple and straightforward in many circumstances. It can also be complex and costly. Often a written will can help make probate simple and straightforward, and a trust can help avoid probate all together. Because it is difficult to determine whether or not you need probate without speaking to a lawyer, it is important that you meet with an estate attorney.