When a loved one dies, the estate goes into probate, the legal process for distribution of assets. The first step to begin probate is to file a petition with the court which appoints an administrator of the estate. That petition must be filed within four years of the decedent’s death, and it must offer proof of death in order to allow probate.
Documentation for Proof of Death
Texas Estates Code § 257.054 outlines the documents and information required to begin probate, including the following:
- Name of Decedent
- Date of Death
- Place of Death
- Age at Death
- Proof that four years have not passed since death
- Reasons for Probate Court jurisdiction and venue, usually based on decedent’s last residential address
- Whether decedent died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate)
- Proof of the decedent’s will if one exists or a statement that decedent had no will
- Necessity for administration of the estate
- Proof that the administrator or executor is not disqualified from accepting letters of testamentary or administration.
The executor or administrator of the estate then swears that the information presented is accurate and true. If the decedent wrote a valid will, the probate process is much quicker and more efficient. Probate of an intestate estate is usually more challenging, making the use of a competent probate attorney even more critical.
Working with a probate lawyer to probate an estate is a wise decision, one which will more easily guide family members through the probate process. Heirs or beneficiaries of an estate also benefit from the expertise and knowledge that a probate attorney offers during what may be an emotionally challenging time in their lives.
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