If you are seeking help with the probate of a loved one's estate, please download the Probate Information Worksheet below, complete it to the best of your ability, and contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss the process.
Upon death, title to the decedent's property passes immediately to the beneficiaries under the decedent's will or to the heirs-at-law if the decedent died without a will. However, there must be an actual transfer of ownership of the property by proving the will in court or, if there is no will, by having a court determine who are the decedent's heirs. The purpose of court involvement is to protect the rights of the family, those entitled to receive property, and the creditors of the decedent's estate. This court process is called probate.
Therefore, although title to property passes immediately at death, the assets of the estate are subject to the control of the executor or administrator of the estate for the purpose of settling the debts of and claims against the estate. After the payment of debts and claims, the remaining assets are distributed to the decedent's beneficiaries or heirs-at-law. If the decedent died with a legally valid will, then his or her property is distributed according to his or her wishes as expressed in the will. On the other hand, if the decedent died without a will or if the will is declared invalid, the estate is distributed to the decedent's heirs as determined under Texas law.
(Excerpt from "To Will Or Not To Will" prepared by TYLA, 1996.)
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