What to Expect During Probate When There Isn’t a Will

Most people know about a last will and testament that helps transfer assets from an individual who has passed away to their listed beneficiaries. In the time following the death of the benefactor or the “decedent” the property and assets go into what has known as probate.

Probate is the legal process involved in transferring property from the deceased’s estate to their beneficiaries. Probate typically occurs when there are real properties or financial accounts involved.

However, if a loved one dies without a will or if they die “intestate,” it does not mean there isn’t hope. In the State of Texas, there are default inheritance rules in place for situations such as this. When this happens, the decedent’s heirs can still be determined and probated. Here is everything you need to know about this process when it happens.

Selecting the Type of Administration

In situations where there is not a will, the first thing you will need to do is to select the type of administration.

Affidavit of Heirship- No administration, or the Affidavit of Heirship is used to establish the title to real estate when the asset is the actual property. No formal administration is needed in these situations where the decedent died without a will and the affidavit of heirship is filed with the county clerk, not the court.

Small Estate Affidavit – This administration is used to collect a small amount of money owed to the estate, like a small bank account. The entire assets of the estate, aside from the homestead, must be less than $50,000 and 30 days must have elapsed since the death of the decedent.

Determination of Heirship – This type of administration is used when all of the heirs of the estate cannot or will not sign a small estate affidavit. The decedent must have died without a will or with a will that didn’t include any real personal property. There must be no debts due on the real estate. After a hearing in court (without administration) the court will declare the identity of the heirs of the estate.

Independent Administration- This type of probate can only occur when the decedent’s date of death was in the last four years. The heirs must all agree on a qualified independent administration (can be a person, firm or corporation). If not, the court will appoint an Independent Administration of the Estate.

Dependent Administration- This probate is used when all of the heirs cannot agree on beneficiaries and there is argument regarding the decedent’s estate. The decedent must have died within the last four years and there has to be a need for a formal administration. This may also be used when one of the beneficiaries is a minor.

Collecting All the Information They Can on Decedent

With the help of an attorney, it is important that the beneficiaries involved are able to get as much information as possible on the decedent. This will only help the attorney assisting you through the process.

If you have any questions about how the process works or are looking for an attorney to help you through this process, contact the attorneys at Hegwood Law Firm today at (281) 845-8538 for more information on probate.

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