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An estate in Texas is comprised of all of the assets owned by someone at the time of their death—for example—cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, life insurance, retirement accounts, cars, etc.
The probate of someone’s estate refers to the process by which a Court recognizes that person’s death and authorizes the administration of that person’s estate. The probate process applies both when:
Initiating the probate process is actually fairly easy. Whether or not the Decedent died with a Will, an application for probate will need to be filed in a Texas Probate Court.
Once the Application has been filed, Texas probate law requires that you must wait approximately 2 weeks before you can have a hearing on the Probate Application for the Court to determine the necessity to open the Administration of the Estate and/or to recognize the Decedent’s Will as valid.
During the 2 week waiting period, the County Clerk posts a notice at the courthouse that an application has been filed for probate. This posting serves as notice to anyone who might want to contest the Will or administration that they have a certain number of days to do that. If they fail to file their contest within that period of time, the Court can move forward in opening the administration and/or recognizing the validity of the Will.
Once the waiting period has passed, a hearing will be conducted before the probate Judge. At that time, he will recognize that the Decedent has died, that the Court has jurisdiction of the case, that the person applying to be the Executor is qualified to serve, and that either the Decedent died without a Will or that the Will he left was valid.
As a practical note, the local rules of most of the Courts hearing probate cases in Texas require that a person applying to administer an estate or admit a Will to probate must be represented by an attorney. Because the Executor has important duties to all of the beneficiaries and heirs of the estate, the Courts want to ensure that they are properly advised as to their obligations and duties as the Executor.