Probate in TX Without a Will

How Long Will Probate Take Without a Will in TX?

Without a legally valid will in place, going through probate court proceedings in Brazoria County can be a long and costly process.

When you pass away, much of your property and assets will need to go through the probate court process. In addition to providing a detailed inventory of your estate, it handles any creditor claims and ensures debts are paid, resolves tax issues, and distributes money and property to your beneficiaries. In terms of estate planning documents, having a legally valid will is vitally important as it names someone you trust to represent you through this process and provides guidance as to your wishes during these proceedings. The following details what happens if you die without a will and how long the probate court process in Texas is likely to take.

Settling Your Estate Without a Will

Whenever someone dies, it is likely their estate must pass through the Brazoria County Probate Court. Assets exempt from the probate court process include:

  • Life insurance;
  • Money in bank accounts previously marked as ‘payable on death’;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Assets held in trust.

Any other real estate, cars, other personal property, investments, or financial accounts you own are likely subject to probate. Your will helps to inform and guide this process and will ensure the probate process can be completed as quickly and cost efficiently as possible. The amount of time it takes to get through probate depends on the size of your estate and the complexity of the situation. With a legally valid will in place, probate can often be resolved in as little as a few months. Without a will, it can take significantly longer and cost significantly more.

Rather than you getting to choose who represents you as executor in these proceedings, the probate court will appoint someone as your administrator, often being the only person who applies. This person may or may not be the person you would have chosen. Moreover, there are list of individuals who can apply as your administrator, which includes your creditors. They will conduct an inventory of assets, settle outstanding debts, file required legal notices and submit tax returns. Once these tasks are completed, anything remaining will be distributed among your heirs. This is where dying without a will can get particularly challenging and expensive.

The Impact of Dying ‘Intestate’

If you die without a will, this is known as dying intestate. Rather than distributing property and assets among beneficiaries that you designate, it will be distributed according to guidelines listed under the Texas Estates Code. Typically, only the following would be considered heirs:

  • Your spouse;
  • Your children;
  • If you have no spouse or children, your parents;
  • If you have no spouse, children, or living parents, your siblings;
  • If one of them is deceased, their children would inherit their share;
  • If there are no spouses, children, parents, or siblings, grandparents would be eligible to inherit;
  • If none of these is alive or exists, the estate would pass to distant relatives.

This process can rob certain loved ones of their share or even exclude them entirely. Locating all of these people and determining their rights also significantly extends the time it takes to go through the probate process.

Of great concern is the distribution of assets when there are children from a previous marriage or relationship. Quite often, those children from a previous marriage end up inheriting from the decedent and owning assets with the decedent’s current spouse, including but not limited to the homestead.

Reach Out to Our Brazoria County Probate and Estate Planning Attorneys

To avoid time-consuming probate court proceedings, let the Cordoba Law Firm, PLLC help you put the proper estate planning documents in place. Reach out and contact our Brazoria County estate planning attorneys to request a consultation today.