How Long Does it Take to Prove a Will in the State of Texas?

Unfortunately, in everyone’s life, you end up knowing someone that dies. Whether it be a relative, close friend, or colleague, the death of a human being is not something to be taken lightly. This is exactly why the process of probate exists, as a means to transfer ownership of the deceased to another person utilizing a Trust, joint ownership, or direct payments to chosen beneficiaries. 

What is probating a will?

Now that you know the process of probate, you must know the similar process of probating a will. If the deceased, who is legally known as the decedent, dies with a drafted will that has not been formalized, the executor or personal representative in the will must file for probate to obtain the assets and beneficiaries of the decedent

Certain time periods can affect the length of probate in Texas when discussing the strategy of probating a will. Local courts and the state court have varying guidelines, so residents must check with their residential county to determine the length of probate for their specific situation. 

The probate process occurs in court, where the judge legally recognizes a person’s death and ensures the person’s will is carried out properly. The judge must enforce the will that is adhered to, with the demands being met, like the deceased person’s debts being paid and the distribution of assets given to the correct people.

What is the length of the probate?

In most cases, the general rule in Texas is that the executor has four years from the date of death to file for probate. If the executor chooses not to file within that time period, or simply forgets the prescribed length of probate, the laws will move forward as if there has been no will allocated. 

In this case, the laws of intestacy will take over. These laws disregard the length of probate measurement of four years, and, instead, govern how the decedent’s assets are distributed without using the drafted will. 

What if the length of probate is several months?

In most cases, the length of probate is time-consuming and can take several months. However, don’t worry – this lengthy process does not mean that beneficiaries are let without any access to the will or without monetary compensation.

Certain assets are transferred in other ways, not during the probate period. These assets are called the non-probate estate, which can be given to the beneficiaries while waiting for the length of probate to finish. Beneficiaries can receive IRAs, pensions, 401k plans, and insurance policies to keep them afloat in the time being. 

Can I transfer assets without going to probate court?

The state of Texas allows you to transfer some assets from the decedent without having to wait for the length of probate to be over. The transferable assets include:

  • Payable on Death bank accounts
  • Survivor benefits
  • Community property
  • Joint tenancy property
  • Life insurance policy

Conclusion

Potential beneficiaries of a decedent’s property, benefits, or money will have to understand the length of probate when determining how they can access their assets. Being aware of probate court rules, the process of probating a will, and the timeframe of probate can help you make the best decisions when moving forward with someone’s last wishes.  

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