Probate is a legal process that may be necessary after the passing of your loved one in Texas.

Knowing what to expect during probate can help you and your family prepare for what is to come.

Validate an existing will

If your loved one left behind a will, file it with the Tarrant County probate court as soon as possible for authentication. Most plaintiffs file a petition to open probate at the same time. You may need to file your loved one’s death certificate as well. The courts will determine the validity of the will during a hearing.

Notify potential beneficiaries

Upon filing a petition to probate an estate, you will need to notify anyone with a potential claim to your loved one’s assets. All heirs and beneficiaries to the deceased person must receive notice of an upcoming court hearing. Publishing a notice about it in the local paper could fulfill this responsibility.

Assign a personal representative

If your loved one’s will named a personal representative, the courts will grant this person the right to execute the will. Otherwise, part of the Texas probate process will be to appoint a personal representative to inventory assets.

Pay debts

Next, the personal representative will organize how to pay off all outstanding debts the decedent’s estate may owe. This could include medical bills and credit cards. The representative may have the power to sell the estate’s assets to pay off debts.

Transfer remaining assets

Once the estate has repaid its debts to valid creditors and bill collectors, the personal representative will allot the remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries. The representative will do so either according to a will or based on Texas’s intestate succession laws. This will conclude most probate cases.