Ultimate guide to probate in Texas

Texas probate is not always easy, but this guide will break down the process and answer commonly asked questions about probate in Texas.

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What is probate in Texas?

Probate in Texas is the court-supervised proceeding to settle an estate and distribute assets to rightful heirs and beneficiaries. In cases where a Will is present, probate validates the estate planning document. Probate also appoints a personal representative or executor to finalize the probate process and oversee the distribution of assets.

PROBATE FEES

How much does probate cost in Texas

Probate in Texas costs an average of $15,000. But that price can range widely depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Common fees you should expect to pay include:

  • Basic court filing fees

  • Surety Bond

  • Various appraisal and survey fees

  • Accounting fees

  • If you hire an attorney, attorney fees

  • Executor compensation

Texas probate costs can be affected by how complicated and big an estate is. If anyone contests the Will or any other part of the process, it can cost more.

Not sure if you need to go through probate? Need help probating the estate of a loved one? Learn more about Probate with Trust & Will.

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INTESTATE LAWS

Dying without a Will in Texas

If you die without a Will in Texas, it’s known as dying, or passing, intestate. When this happens, state intestate succession laws come into play. In Texas, the following are entitled to assets:

  • Surviving spouses

  • Blood relatives

The order of succession is as follows: 

  • A surviving spouse

  • Any children or grandchildren

  • Living parents

  • Siblings

  • Grandparents

  • Aunts or uncles

  • Additional extended family

Some assets don’t go through probate and can be passed on directly to the person they were intended for. This is assuming titles are done properly and beneficiaries are named. These can include: 

  • Trust-owned assets  

  • IRA or 401k (retirement accounts) funds

  • Proceeds from life insurance policies  

  • Transfer on Death (TOD) and Payable on Death (POD) accounts

  • Jointly titled property with right of survivorship

PROBATE PROCESS STEPS 

How to start probate in Texas

The probate process can vary from state to state, but starting probate in Texas follows a general procedure. The first thing you need to do is reach out to the court. Then, you should:

  • Get appointed as the executor.

  • Submit the Will (if found) to the court. 

  • Create an inventory of all found assets.

  • Determine the value of assets. 

  • Submit both the inventory and the valuations to the court.

  • Pay off outstanding debts and any final expenses.

  • File taxes and pay anything the estate owes. 

  • Distribute what assets are left to beneficiaries. 

Note that the person filling the role of executor may also have to complete tasks such as:

  • Open a checking account

  • Get an EIN

  • Read and understand the Will

  • Effectively communicate with beneficiaries

  • Inform creditors of the decedent’s passing

  • Learn all the deadlines associated with the probate process in Texas

  • Pay all the final estate bills

  • File a tax return for the estate

  • Submit a death certificate

  • Keep detailed, accurate receipts of any debts paid off or payments made 

  • Close the estate at the end of probate

Still looking for estate settlement help? Learn more about Probate with Trust & Will.

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Commonly asked questions about probate in Texas

When is probate required in Texas?
In short, probate is usually required in Texas. That said, there are some occasions when it’s not. The bigger the estate, though, the more likely it is it’ll need to go through probate. In Texas, this is even more true if real estate is involved.
How long does the probate process take in Texas?
Probate in Texas can take 6 months to over a year. The more complex the estate is, the longer probate tends to take.
Probate forms in Texas
A large portion of the probate process simply involves filling out forms.

Some you should be on the lookout for include– Certificate of Filing Will; Petition of Probate; Notice to Creditors; Bond or Waiver of Bond; List of Interested Persons; Filing Inventory & Appraisal; Ongoing/Annual Accounting; Notice to Beneficiaries; Filing for Close of Probate; and Release of Liability & Responsibility.
Do I need a probate attorney in Texas?
In most instances, Texas probate courts require you to have an attorney. Additionally, you might want to consider one if the estate you’re handling is very complex or you expect anyone to contest any parts of the distribution process. Things like this can add time and cost to the probate process in Texas, so it might be worth considering hiring a lawyer in some cases.
What are the types of probate in Texas
Types of probate can vary in different states, but in Texas, there are 3 main proceeding types– dependent administration, independent administration, and muniment of title.

The last type, muniment of title, is specific and unique to the state. During this type of probate, there’s no executor. The court certifies the Will and then distributes assets to appropriate beneficiaries.
What are the probate deadlines in Texas
Meeting deadlines is an essential component of the Texas probate process. The list below will help you remember important dates as you work through the probate process in Texas.

Within 1 year of death – Time allowed to void a marriage.

No later than the 2nd anniversary of the date the Will was submitted – Time allowed for contest the Will.

No later than the 4th anniversary of the decedent’s passing – Time allowed for admission of Will to probate.

21st day after date Will was probated – Time allowed for granting of letters of testamentary.

31st day after the decedent's passing – Time allowed for an Executor to present the Will for probate.

Two months after admission of Will – Time to give notice to beneficiaries of probate of Will.

One month after grant of letters – Time for giving notice to creditors.

Note: the most common mistake Personal Representatives make is failure to properly notify creditors.

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