Probate is the process where a court recognizes a person’s death officially and helps to distribute their estate amongst the living beneficiaries. The probate process helps to resolve any challenges that may arise in the distribution of an estate following a will.
But what happens when a deceased does not leave a will behind? The estate of the dead will fall under intestate laws, according to the legal website Texas Law Help. The rules are very similar to the regular probate proceedings. The first step before initiating the probate process is determining who has the right to inherit the estate.
According to the Legal Beagle, someone needs to raise a petition requesting the court to clarify the heirs. The court will then hire an attorney ad litem who will locate any known heir. Once found, the judge will determine what percentage each heir is to inherit by issuing a judgment declaring heirship. It is then that the probate process can begin. The heirs can choose to use an independent administrator to manage the process without any court involvement.
However, if they do not come into an agreement, or if one of the heirs is a minor, the court will closely monitor the whole probate process. The administrator will have to get court approval for every step they take. The state of Texas, in some instances, allows heirs to bypass the whole process of determining heirship. It may, however, only happen when dealing with a small estate.
An heir should present an Affidavit of Heirship to a county clerk. It should detail the heirs and the estate details. If the deceased does not leave any name of a beneficiary of an asset worth $50,000 or less, an heir can use the affidavit of heirship to inherit the assets. It, however, needs the approval of a judge to be valid.