During the estate planning process, many individuals wonder if their estate will require probate. While some assets can transfer to beneficiaries without court supervision, large estates in Texas must go through the probate process.
Texas residents should understand the state laws about probate as they plan their estates.
Estates that have a valid Texas will, no unpaid debts and no outstanding medical claims may qualify for muniment of title. With this process, a family member of the deceased simply files a copy of the will with the court to get permission to distribute the estate’s assets accordingly.
Usually, Texas allows executors permission to independently administer the deceased person’s estate as long as this provision appears in the will. This process involves minimal court oversight, though the executor must provide notice to potential creditors of the estate and file an inventory of assets with the court. Upon approval, the executor can pay the estate’s debts, distribute property according to the will, sell assets as needed and take other actions on behalf of the estate.
Transfer of exempt assets
Regardless of whether an estate requires simplified probate or independent administration, some assets transfer automatically upon the deceased person’s debt. So-called exempt assets include community property owned with a spouse, bank and investment accounts for which the deceased person named a beneficiary, and benefits paid from a life insurance policy or annuity.
Texas rarely requires direct court supervision of the estate administration process. However, if the deceased person’s beneficiaries or family members do not agree to independent administration, the executor must undergo the formal probate process (dependent estate administration).