After losing a loved one, you have to probate their will within the Texas probate timeline.
Some may wonder, How long do you have to probate a will in Texas? The answer is that you only have four years from the date of the decedent’s death to file the will with a probate court.
After that, you might fall into an exception, but usually the judge won’t allow you to probate that will anymore. Sometimes that has harsh consequences because the estate is then subject to Texas intestate laws.
Oftentimes a person will leave everything to their surviving spouse in their will, but if the surviving spouse doesn’t take the will to have it probated with the court within four years, the children could become the heirs to all of the assets instead. It’s really important not to delay having a will probated once someone passes away.
Now that you know what your deadline is, you’re probably wondering, How long does it take to probate a will in Texas? We’ll explain.
How Long Does It Take to Probate a Will in Texas?
It’s difficult to give an average timeline for how long it takes to probate a will in Texas.
Probate is a multi-step process that involves:
- Filing a will;
- Proving that the will is valid;
- Identifying and valuing the deceased person’s assets;
- Notifying creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries of the probate proceeding;
- Paying off debts and taxes; and
- Making distributions from the estate.
The probate process can take anywhere from a couple of months to several years. Many different factors impact the time it takes to probate a will, such as the type of assets in the estate, tax implications, and whether any heirs or creditors file claims against the estate.
Even if the executor timely files the will, there are formalities and required notifications that you cannot expedite. For example, Texas has a waiting period before the court will schedule a hearing. You also have to give creditors up to six months to bring a claim for an unpaid debt.
Lastly, each Texas court has its own procedures, so the probate timeline differs based on where you probate the will.
In Texas, if the decedent has a will, you may be able to probate a will as a Muniment of Title rather than go through a formal probate proceeding. This process is quicker and cheaper than regular probate.
However, to use a Muniment of Title, the decedent must have left a will and have no outstanding debts other than debt secured by a lien on real estate.
How Long Does Probate Take in Texas Without a Will?
Probating an estate without a will typically takes longer because of the court’s supervision and involvement. As mentioned above, when there’s no will, the probate court must distribute the decedent’s assets according to intestate succession law.
This requires the court to determine who are the legal heirs of the decedent. This long process involves appointing an additional lawyer to locate all of the family members, proving their legal right to inherit, and attending multiple hearings.
Texas offers a streamlined probate process, called a Small Estate Affidavit, for estates with a value of $75,000 or less and that have no will. Basically, you fill out a form and file it with the local probate court.
The complicated part is determining if the estate meets the requirements for a Small Estate Affidavit. At The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, we can explain all of the probate options available to you.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON COSTS INVOLVED IN A PROBATE CASE?
In a regular probate case, court fees vary by county but can be quite expensive. Right now, in Travis County, it’s about $400 to open up a probate case.
If you don’t have a will, it’s closer to $1,300 because we have to appoint an attorney ad litem, which is a second attorney. That attorney’s job is to make sure we’ve found all of the heirs and are reporting them to the court.
Then, you have to pay the probate attorney. Most probate attorneys charge between $250 and $350 per hour, and although retainers vary from firm to firm, they are usually several thousand dollars. Lastly, there are administrative costs, such as preparing new deeds in the name of the heirs, which are oftentimes several hundred dollars per deed.
CAN SOMEONE NAVIGATE THE PROBATE PROCESS ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY?
Most probate court websites explicitly state that they do not allow you to attempt to represent yourself in probate court. This is because most estates involve the rights of multiple parties. There are usually several heirs, creditors and other parties.
There’s also the factor of expense, oftentimes you have to pay up to $1300 just to file in probate court. It’s complicated and people get it wrong. If you don’t do everything perfectly, you could lose your filing fee. You absolutely need a probate attorney to work with you to transfer the assets over.
For more information on Timeframe To Probate A Will in Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 851-1248 today.