In Texas, probate is the legal process that is used to settle the estate of a deceased person. This includes distributing their assets and paying any debts or taxes that may be owed. The process can be complex, but understanding what is subject to probate in Texas can help simplify things.
Generally, any property that is owned by the deceased person at the time of their death is subject to probate. This includes real estate, personal property, and financial accounts. If the deceased person had a will, this will also need to go through probate. There are some exceptions to this, however. Property that is jointly owned with another person or that has a named beneficiary does not need to go through probate.
Additionally, life insurance policies and retirement accounts are not subject to probate in Texas. If you are dealing with the estate of a deceased person in Texas, it is important to understand what is subject to probate and what isn’t. This will help you determine what needs to be taken care of and how to go about doing it.
What is Probate in Texas?
When a person dies, their estate must go through probate in order to be distributed to their heirs. Probate is the legal process of settling an estate and can be a lengthy and complicated process. In Texas, the following assets are subject to probate:
- Real property (including homes, land, and other buildings)
- Personal property (including cars, furniture, jewelry, and other belongings)
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Life insurance policies
Probate can be a costly and time-consuming process, so it’s important to know which assets are subject to probate before death.
Estate Management During Probate
Assuming there is no will, Texas law requires that the court appoint an administrator to manage the estate during probate. The administrator is typically a close relative of the deceased, but could also be a professional fiduciary. If there is a will, the court will appoint the executor named in the will to manage the estate. The administrator or executor has several duties, including:
- Identifying and inventorying all of the decedent’s assets
- Paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate
- Making sure that all property is properly insured
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries
Assets Subject to Probate
All assets that are not exempt from probate are subject to probate in Texas. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Any real property located in Texas, such as a house, land, or condominium
- Personal property located in Texas, such as furniture, cars, jewelry, or art
- Any bank accounts or investment accounts located in Texas
- Any life insurance policies with a death benefit payable to the estate
- Any retirement accounts with a named beneficiary other than the estate
Assets Exempt From Probate
Some assets that are not subject to probate in Texas include:
- Assets that are jointly owned with someone else and have a right of survivorship.
- Assets that are held in a trust.
- Assets that have been designated as beneficiary designations, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
- Assets that are jointly owned with someone else as community property with right of survivorship.
- Assets that are owned by a business entity, such as a corporation or partnership.
Some common examples of property that may be exempt from probate in Texas include:
- Property held in a living trust
- Transfer on death (TOD) accounts
- Payable on death (POD) accounts
- Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
- Retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
- Jointly owned property
- Community property
- Homestead property
Property Transfer Without Probate in Texas
In Texas, as in other states, property may be transferred after someone dies without going through probate if the property passes directly to a surviving joint owner or a named beneficiary. The executor of the estate is responsible for collecting the deceased person’s assets and distributing them to creditors and heirs.
Length of Probate in Texas
In Texas, probate is generally a four-step process that can take anywhere from several months to a year or more to complete. The steps are:
- Filing of a petition with the probate court
- Appointment of an executor or administrator by the court
- Collection and distribution of the estate’s assets
- Closing of the estate
In Texas, the probate process is used to determine who will inherit a person’s property when they die. The court will appoint an executor to oversee the distribution of the estate, and all debts and taxes must be paid before any assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Probate can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it’s important to understand what is subject to probate in Texas before you start the process.