Texas Probate: An Overview

Probate can often become a complicated and lengthy process. Texas attempts to make it simpler by using what is called the “independent administration of estates.” With independent administration, the executor doesn’t have to post a bond and doesn’t have to ask the court for permission before taking steps to settle the estate. The executor still needs to publish notices for potential creditors and make a list of assets to file with the court.

With dependent administration, greater court supervision is required. In Texas, wills usually specify that independent administration probate should be used. If the will doesn’t specify the type of probate or if there is no will, the executor can request independent administration as long as all beneficiaries agree.

There are other ways of transferring assets in Texas besides probate. Muniment of title can be used when there is a will, there is no unpaid debt except debt secured by real estate, and there are no outstanding Medicaid claims against the estate. The request to probate a will as muniment of title can be submitted with the will to the probate court. In this situation, no executor is appointed. The person requesting the muniment of title needs to file an affidavit within six months that states that the terms of the will have been met.

Another possibility is a small estate affidavit. If there is no will and the estate is not worth more than $50,000, then the beneficiaries can collect the property by filing an affidavit.

If the value of the property doesn’t exceed what’s necessary to pay certain creditors and a family allowance, the executor only needs to present a statement outlining where the estate money went, whereupon the court closes the estate. If the assets remaining after paying funeral expenses and last illness expenses don’t exceed the family allowance amount, the court can assign any assets to surviving children and/or spouse and close the estate.

In Texas, community property with survivorship rights, joint tenancy property with right of survivorship, payable-on-death bank accounts, survivor’s benefits from an annuity, and life insurance proceeds can all be transferred to a beneficiary without probate. If you’d like information about how to avoid probate for your estate, we are glad to discuss the specifics of your situation with you. Please contact us today for more information!

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.