The loss of a loved one is a devastating time for family and friends. Although it is a time to grieve, a person close to the deceased will be responsible for making legal and financial arrangements, such as probate. Probate is a court process in which a deceased person’s property is passed to the beneficiaries listed in their will. But who is responsible for managing the probate process after a loved one’s death? Our Dallas-Fort Worth probate attorneys break it down for you below.
Who Is Responsible for Starting the Probate Process?
The person named as executor in the deceased’s will is responsible for, with the assistance of an attorney, filing an application for probate with court as soon as possible. After the application filing, the court will need to authenticate the will and confirm that it is valid. The court will request what is called a “prove-up hearing” to establish validity of the will.
Who Will Take Charge of the Probate Process?
Once the will is authenticated, the judge will appoint the “executor” or “administrator” to oversee the entire probate process and settle the estate. In most cases, the deceased person lists who they want their executor to be.
What If There Isn’t a Will?
If there isn’t a will, then the person died intestate. Dying without a will or legal documents to tell us what you intended to happen after you pass away is dying intestate. It is important to note that when a loved one passes away without a will, everything doesn’t automatically go to the surviving spouse or closest living relative. Loved ones will need to go to probate court to determine who the beneficiaries will be.
During probate, the court may require loved ones to go through heirship proceedings. During this process, a court appointed attorney will need to verify the deceased’s spouse and children. The attorney will also conduct an investigation to determine if there are other potential heirs and who should receive assets. Dying intestate can leave loved ones in a difficult situation that could be avoided with a will.
Learn more about dying intestate on our radio show here.
What Is the Executor In Charge Of?
The executor, with the assistance of their probate attorney, will be responsible for the following:
- Locating the deceased's assets
- Determining the value of the assets
- Notifying creditors of the person’s death and paying off debts
- Distributing the estate
- Filing the final tax return and more.
The probate process can be long and complicated, so an experienced attorney can help you get through every step in the most effective and efficient way possible. In fact, Texas courts typically require an executor to be represented by an attorney in probate because an executor cannot represent themselves or the interests of the beneficiaries and creditors. Texas law only allows a licensed attorney to represent the interests of others. Learn more about this in our blog post here.
Have questions about the probate process? Contact our Dallas-Fort Worth probate attorneys today at (972) 560-6288 to schedule a consultation!