When a loved one passes away there are many practical things that need to be done. Of course, a period of grief is expected and needed. Even paying bills can be put off a couple of weeks while funeral services are planned and carried out and the family grieves.
Once you’re ready, a probate attorney can assist the Executor with the probate process. Generally, these steps will need to be carried out:
- Probate Court – The original will (and any codicils thereto), death certificate and application to probate the will must be filed in probate court for the Executor to be officially appointed to this role. If there is no will, an application for Determination of Heirship may be required to determine the proper beneficiaries. In Texas, such application should be filed in the Court where the decedent resided, died or owned real estate.
- Notification – After the Executor (or Administrator, if there was no will) is appointed by the Court, he must notify creditors and beneficiaries of the estate.
- Asset Collection – Next, all of the decedent’s property must be inventoried, appraised and such inventory filed with the court.
- Bill and Tax Payments – All of the decedent’s bills must be paid and tax returns filed.
- Property Distribution – After creditors are paid, the residue of the estate may be distributed to the heirs in accordance with the Will (or the Determination of Heirship ruling).