Independent Administrations in Texas are among the most efficient methods of navigating probate in the country. As streamlined as the process may be, any person nominated to serve as Executor should consult with a skilled probate attorney. This guide highlights some of the most basic steps.
Filing the Application
The Application to admit a Last Will and Testament in Texas must contain several important facts. The decedent must be fully identified, and the Court must be told of the reason why that particular Court is the appropriate venue to act on the Application. Specific facts including the decedent’s date of birth, death, residence, assets, debts and family must also be outlined fully. In addition to facts regarding the decedent and the Will itself, the Application should include some specific facts concerning the nominated personal representative, or Executor. Once filed, notice of the Application must be issued, and the County Clerk achieves this by posting the Application for a determined period of time. When that time lapses, a hearing on the Application may be set.
Most hearings to admit a Will to probate and appoint a personal representative in Texas are very brief. In essence, each fact alleged in the Application must be proven in Court. Traditionally, this is accomplished through the testimony of the nominated personal representative. On occasion, however, additional witnesses might be needed in order to prove some specific facts. This additional evidence is most often required when only a photocopy of the Will is offered for admission to probate, or when the Will fails in some way to meet the standards of due execution in Texas. Most importantly, the nominated personal representative must offer testimony concerning his or her qualifications, as there are a number of facts that might disqualify a person from serving in such a capacity.
Obtaining Letters Testamentary and First Steps
Immediately following a hearing, after the Will has been admitted and a personal representative appointed, the Executor may order Letters Testamentary from the County Clerk. These documents work as identification cards of sorts, and they show to any third-party that the Executor has the authority to deal on behalf of the Estate. A bank, for example, might require Letters Testamentary before releasing funds of the Estate to the Executor. The Executor must also notify creditors, notify beneficiaries of the Will and prepare an Inventory of the Estate for the Court’s approval. While these steps are being accomplished, the Executor must gather the Estate’s assets, reconcile all proper debts and finally make distributions of the remaining property to the rightful beneficiaries.
Closing the Estate
Most independent administrations in Texas are never formally closed. The Executor simply finishes the job at hand and stops working. There may, however, be a handful of filings made in order to reflect the termination of the Estate in the Clerk’s records. Beneficiaries might be asked to sign documents that evidence they have received assets of the Estate, and that they release the Executor from further liability.