The first question you likely have when you finally step into your new executor role is whether you need an attorney. In Texas, probate hearings are judicial proceedings. The only person who can represent others in judicial proceedings is a licensed attorney. Since executors represent the estate itself, wards (for guardianships), heirs and beneficiaries, before filing the Application to Probate, you will need to hire an Austin, Texas, attorney. Reasonable attorney’s fees are payable from the estate.
Application for Probate
The first step in the probate process filing the Application for Probate with the Texas Probate Court in the county where the deceased resided. For example, if they resided in Austin, Texas, you would file in Travis County. This must be done within four years of the death.
After the application is filed, there is at least a 2-week waiting period prior to the Probate Hearing. During this time, the County Clerk where you filed the application posts a probate application notice at the courthouse. This is the initial notice to any interested party that probate has begun. Anyone who wants to challenge the will can do so at this time.
The Texas Probate Hearing
The Probate Judge conducts the Probate Hearing. During this process, the judge makes several findings. First, the probate judge will recognize the passing of your loved one and determine whether their court has jurisdiction. Next, the judge will determine whether you are qualified to be an executor and the will’s validity. Keep in mind that, even when the proceeding is over, probate is not really closed until 2 years after the application is filed because the will can be contested at any point prior to that time.
Passing with a will and an estate
This post largely relates to the passing of a person with an estate and a will. There is overlap with other scenarios as well. In future posts, we will explore other probate scenarios that you may experience in Austin, Texas, or Travis County in general.