It is possible for someone with a large estate to die without a will. This happens when the decedent made other arrangements for the transfer of property, such as establishing trusts, naming beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies, or owning property with another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.
If there is a will, that will must be admitted to probate in order for the assets named in the will to be transferred to the named beneficiaries.
When Do I Have to Probate a Will in Texas?
Texas law requires that when a person dies with a will, that will must be admitted to probate within four years of the person’s death. The will usually names an executor of the estate, and the executor is the one who is charged with filing the will within the time frame established by law.
If the executor fails to file the will within four years of the decedent’s death, the assets may then be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which govern asset distribution when there is no will.
Overview of the Probate Process
The will must be submitted with a probate application to the probate court in the county where the decedent died. A court hearing will be scheduled to take place after the probate application and will are submitted to the court. The court clerk will give notice that the will has been filed.
At the hearing, if no one has come forward to contest the will, the court will determine if the will is valid and appoint an executor, which is generally the person named in the will.
If the estate is small, there are few assets, and no one contests the will, the probate process can be completed in about six months. For larger estates, and if someone contests the will, the process can take more than a year.
Contact the Reecer Law Firm PLLC for Assistance
Dena Reecer, founder and owner of the Reecer Law Firm PLLC, is one of a few Texas attorneys who are Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact the firm for more information about having a loved one’s will submitted to probate so the assets can be distributed according to the decedent’s wishes.