Probating a will involves proving its validity and legitimacy. The need to probate a will happens after someone files the document with the local probate court. The court reviews the will and decides whether it is valid or not. This process is probate in its simplest form, but sometimes probating a will can be more complicated. First the will must be admitted for probate. Then, probate proceedings can begin. Once the probate process is complete, the will can be settled.
Admitting the will for probate
The first step in probating a will is admitting it into the courts. In Texas, a will is admitted by submitting an application for probate with the probate court. The person filing the application can be a spouse, a child, a parent, or any other person named in the document. There is a limited period between the time the decedent, or creator of the will, dies and when the document can be admitted to probate court. The courts can allow wills after that time, but the admittance process could be more complicated.
Once an application is filed for probate in Texas, there is a waiting period of about two weeks before an initial hearing is scheduled. During this time, the courts should post notice of the probate application so that anyone who wants to contest the will can.
During the probate proceedings, the judge must do several things. First, he or she will validate that the person who wrote the will is deceased and that person died within the court’s jurisdiction. The judge will also verify that the document is valid and determine if the appropriate legal formalities were followed in the making of the will. Finally, the judge will determine if the decedent was legally capable of making the document at the time it was written.
Verification and validation are normally done by having the witnesses to the will’s signing present in court to give testimony. Some wills come with affidavits signed by the witnesses to prove validity. The witness testimony and affidavits show the decedent was of sound mind and under no coercion while creating the document.
Interested parties can also contest the validity of the will at this point in the probate process. If anyone has reason to think the document is fraudulent or was made under coercion, he or she can bring testimony or evidence to the courts. The courts must resolve these issues before any other part of probate can proceed.
If everything is verified and validated, the courts should find the will valid and let probate proceed. If the courts find a problem with the will’s construction, it may be voided. If the document is voided, probate proceeds as if there is no will at all.
At this point of the probate process, the court appoints someone to handle the estate settlement. Quite often, this person is someone the decedent indicated within the will. However, the courts can override the decedent’s wishes in specific circumstances. The person appointed is usually called the administrator or executor.
Settling the estate after probate
The administrator of the estate goes through the process of identifying and valuing the decedent’s property. Settling the estate includes taking inventory of the estate assets and presenting it to the courts within 90 days.
In addition to taking inventory, the administrator must also publish notice to creditors. This notice is published in the local newspaper. The statement provides formal notification that the decedent’s estate is being settled and that creditors can file a claim against the estate if debt repayment is desired. Any debt claims made must be resolved using the assets of the estate.
Once all assets are identified, and all debt claims are settled, the administrator can then distribute the remaining assets according to the will’s conditions. If there is not a valid will, the distribution is made according to state laws.
The probate process can be daunting for someone who has not gone through it before. Having a good attorney on hand can make the process easier. If you need help during the probate process, call the experienced attorneys at Sprouse Law in Amarillo, Texas, at (806) 468 3300. The attorneys at Sprouse Law in Tulsa, Oklahoma can also help. Contact these Tulsa attorneys directly at (918) 743-4443. You can Contact Us by email for more information or visit one of our locations in Amarillo, Austin, and Victoria, Texas.