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What is probate?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2022 | Estate Planning

Probate sounds like a scary legal term, but it is really just the legal process to finalize the affairs of a deceased person. It is a legal process that is governed by both state and federal rules, but it is a Texas court proceeding, which means it has all of the normal fees associated with courtroom litigation, like attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Executor and administrator

Once a person dies, their will appoints an executor to administer the probate process. If there is no will, one of the deceased Plano, Texas, resident’s family members or heirs files with the court to have an administrator appointed. Usually, the administrator is one of the family members, but they do not necessarily need to be. And, a debtor could also file with the probate court to have the estate settled and their debt repaid.

Their job

Essentially, the executor or administrator is responsible for making a full accounting of all of the debts and assets of the deceased person’s estate. Then, all of the debts are paid off, and the remaining assets are paid to the heirs as outlined in the will. If there is no will, the administrator distributes the remaining assets to the heirs based on Texas intestate law. The probate judge supervises the executor or administrator and settles disputes through litigation. For example, if a debt is found invalid by the executor.

Filings

The executor riles all of the forms with the probate court, any state tax assessor and the IRS, including the will itself to begin the probate process. The court officially empowers the executor to act on behalf of the deceased Plano, Texas, resident.

What is included in the probate process?

Everything that is in the deceased person’s estate is included in the probate process. This includes debts, taxes and all assets, tangible and intangible. Athough, jointly held accounts and accounts that have payable-on-death designations are usually not included. These include joint bank accounts, where the joint owner can simply liquidate the assets, and life insurance, which is payable to a named beneficiary, regardless of whatever is stated in the will. In addition, many brokerage accounts also have payable-on-death designations that will transfer or liquidate and transfer the balance of an account to a named beneficiary outside of the probate proceedings. An executor or administrator has no power over these funds. Assets that have been moved into a separate trust are treated similarly.