In Texas, it is a very good idea to have a Will - or a Last Will and Testament. A Will establishes the final wishes of a person for the distribution of their estate when they pass away. Without a Will in the state of Texas, all personal and business assets and real estate will be transferred according to the Texas Rules of Intestacy (rules for a person without a will). It is very important to know that these rules may not agree with your own wishes for your estate.
There are several steps in the preparation of a will: First, you must designate your beneficiaries (the persons who will inherit your estate), and what you wish them to inherit. Next, you should nominate an Executor or the person who will handle the probate. This person should be responsible and able to manage the financial aspects of the estate. The attorney will then draw up the Will document for you to sign, and keep in a safe place. The original Will must be available for submission to the probate court when the person passes away.
Probate is the legal process for transferring the assets of a person who has passed away to persons designated as heirs in the Will. A Last Will and Testament is the document that directs the court and the named Executor on the transfer of those assets. In Texas, an Application to Probate a Will is the document that begins the process through which a decedent's estate must go. Such an application would be filed in the Probate Court of the county in which the person passed away, or where the person owned real property. There are numerous steps that must be followed in probate, such as appearing in court to prove up the will, signing documents that attest to the decedent's death and family status, and swearing to carry out the duties of Executor. Letters Testamentary are requested and then delivered by the Court to allow the Executor evidence of all of the personal and real property of the decedent, and determine its worth. Before the probate cause is completed, an Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims must be completed by the Executor, in preparation for the transfer of the assets of the estate to the named beneficiaries. In addition, all of the beneficiaries have to be notified of the probate proceeding. If no Will is available, an Heirship proceeding will be established by the State to allow family members to transfer the assets of the estate.
It is strongly encouraged that you receive legal assistance from a Probate attorney during this process. If complexities develop, the attorney can guide the way to a successful conclusion. Actions that are delayed, or skipped over, can cause problems that are difficult and sometimes impossible to correct.