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A primer on probate: What is it and how does it work?

| Oct 28, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Probate is the legal process that uses the court systems to officially recognize a will. During this process, the court will appoint someone to help make sure the terms of the will are met. The court refers to this individual as the executor. The executor will then distribute the estate while staying within the guidelines provided by the will.

There are types of property that require the use of probate to pass from one person to the next and those that do not. Beneficiary designations, for example, do not require probate. These designations allow for immediate transfer upon the death of the owner of the asset. A common example is a bank account. When starting up a bank account, the creator is presented with the option to make a beneficiary designation. The bank will then transfer the account to the individual identified in the beneficiary designation when the creator dies.

Other types of property, like real estate, vehicles and family heirlooms will likely require the use of probate to officially transfer from the original owner to the heir or beneficiary.

Does probate still happen if there is not a will?

If there is no will, the estate generally still goes through probate. In these situations, the court will likely apply the state’s rules for transfer of property when no will is present. The probate court will also appoint someone to manage the process. This individual is referred to as the administrator of the estate. The administrator is tasked with distributing the estate while staying within the guidelines provided by Texas state law.

Whether passed with a will or without, heirs or beneficiaries may take issue with the distribution plans. This can lead to courtroom battles. Those who are navigating the probate process do not need to go through it alone. You can delegate legal counsel to help manage the process.