Probate with a Will
A will is a legal document that coordinates the distribution of someone's assets after death and can appoint guardians for minor children. The validity of a decedent's will must be proven in court. This procedure is known as probate, and it generally must take place within four years after death.
Once the will is admitted to probate, the Court can open an estate and appoint an executor or administrator.
If the will names an individual to carry out these duties, he or she is called an executor. If the court appoints such a person because the will does not name an executor or the decedent died without a will, that person is called an administrator.
Estate administration is the management and settlement of an estate by a personal representative or more commonly known as, the executor or administrator. Estate administration may not be necessary. However, estate administration is required in most other circumstances.
Estate administration involves the following steps:
- collection of the estate assets;
- payment of estate debts and claims;
- payment of estate taxes, if any;
- determination of heirs; and
- distribution of the estate.
In Texas, there are several different methods of administering an estate, some of the more common are: