A decedent who dies without a Will is subject to the state’s intestacy statutes. If the decedent died with a small estate, then, under Texas law, the surviving spouse and distributees might want to file a Small Estate Affidavit in lieu of a regular probate. The Small Estate Affidavit is limited to intestate estates less than $50,000. The $50,000 limitation applies only to probate assets, and does not include the value of the homestead or any personal property, or any non-probate property, such as life insurance proceeds or property that passes as joint tenancy with right of survivorship. In other words, the Small Estate Affidavit allows distributees to skip the formal administration procedures.
If the decedent’s only asset is a final paycheck, then Texas law permits a surviving spouse to collect a deceased spouse’s final paycheck by providing the employer with a final paycheck affidavit.
As you can see from the foregoing affidavit procedures, Texas probate is not as formal as the probate process in many other jurisdictions. In most other states, probate entails judicial supervision during the entire administration and until an executor or personal representative files a closing letter. In Texas, probate courts do not supervise the entire probate process. In fact, after a probate court approves the appointment of the decedent’s executor or selects a personal representative to administer a decedent’s estate, and the administrator files what is called an Inventory of assess that pass through probate, the probate court’s supervision generally ends.
If you have any questions about probate courts or statutory affidavits, then please call for an initial one-hour consultation, which is at no-charge. We at the Mendel Law Firm can help you uncover your options and choose the strategy that is best for you.