Probate is the process where a decedent’s will is submitted to the probate court that first determines the validity of the will. Then, the court oversees the payments to creditors and makes sure the decedent’s wishes, as expressed in the will, are followed. Texas law specifically provides that “a will is not effective to prove title to, or the right to possession of, any property disposed of by the will until the will is admitted to probate.”
Why You May Need an Attorney to Probate a Will
Texas courts are divided. Texas courts are divided on the issues of whether an executor of an estate or personal representative can represent themselves or whether only an attorney can represent the estate. In most Texas courts, you need an attorney.
Only an attorney can represent the interests of others. You need an attorney because Texas law also prohibits a non-attorney from representing the interests of anyone in court but themselves. A will generally has beneficiaries other than the executor or personal representative. If the executor or personal representative files pleadings on behalf of the beneficiaries without the assistance of counsel, it amounts to the practice of law without a license, which is against Texas law.
Probate can be a complicated process. Additionally, probate can be a complicated process that can take up to a year or more to complete. If anyone contests the will, complex legal issues will be involved that require the attention of an experienced probate attorney who knows how to defend the will against challenges by beneficiaries or by those who were left out of the will and challenge that omission in court, believing the omission was a mistake.
In a routine probate, with no issues of validity and with no challenges by beneficiaries, there are still complex legal terms and procedures that must be followed that are difficult for a non-attorney to understand and follow.
Contact the Reecer Law Firm PLLC for Assistance
Dena Reecer, founder and owner of the Reecer Law Firm PLLC, is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. If you are the executor of an estate or personal representative, contact the law firm for more information about how the attorneys can help you in probating a will.