Understanding Texas Probate
Probate is the process in which a court oversees the administration of a deceased person’s valid Will, or determines who receives their property if the decedent failed to leave a valid Will. An executor or personal representative of the estate is appointed by the court to distribute assets of the descendant’s estate and handle any debts of the estate. In most cases, the executor/personal representative carries these duties out without further supervision of the probate court, but must have the assistance of an attorney as a matter of law.
If a personal representative does not successfully complete their duties in full, they are personally liable and at risk of being sued by the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Consequently, it is not only the law, but it is of the upmost importance to have competent legal representation if you are the executor or personal representative of an estate.
Probate Litigation may occur if/when a disagreement arises or legal claim is made among interested parties during the Probate process. Common Probate disputes include:
- Will Contests: An interested party may challenge the validity of a deceased’s entire Will. This typically occurs because the party believes the estate was not distributed as the deceased intended.
- Removal of Executor/Fiduciary Duty: If the interested party believes the executor has failed to perform their duties with honesty, integrity and in the best interest of the deceased’s estate and beneficiaries, then legal measures may be taken to ensure Fiduciary Duties are upheld.
- Fee Disputes: Executors of the estate are paid for their services. However, an interested party may file a claim if he/she believes the executor overcharged the estate for services rendered.
Not probating a will when a loved one dies can have unforeseen consequences. Please contact Harris Cook for an evaluation of your specific situation.