When a person in Texas loses a loved one, their loved one's estate may be subject to probate. During the probate process, the court determines the validity of the will, if there is one, and administer the distribution of property and debt. If the deceased does not have an estate plan, then the court will use state guidelines to determine who will inherit the deceased's property.
In Texas, to start the probate process, a form known as the "application for probate" must be completed and filed with the person's area probate court. About two weeks after this, there will be a hearing to decide if the Administration of the estate will be opened and if the validity of the deceased's will be recognized. Notice will be posted at the area court of the probate application, so that those who might want to contest the validity of the will have the chance to do so.
After that a hearing will be held. At the hearing, the death of the decedent will be established, the probate court's jurisdiction over the decedent's estate will be confirmed, an estate administrator (executor) will be appointed and the applicability of the deceased's will (if they left one) will be determined. Following that, the terms of the will be reviewed, the deceased's property will be listed, the deceased's heirs will be identified, any debts or liabilities the deceased had will be settled and finally the deceased's property will be distributed to his or her heirs.
As you can see, the probate process can be complex, especially if you have never gone through it before. Therefore, it can help to have legal help if you lost a loved one or have been appointed as the administrator of an estate. For example, the professionals at The Springer Law Firm represent their clients throughout the probate process, whether it is to settle a simple estate or whether there are complex issues or problems that arise during the probate process. The firm's web page on the probate process in Texas may be a good starting point for those who lost a loved one and need more information about what to do next.