There is so much to care for when a loved one passes away. In addition to coping with difficult emotions, you have to handle many critical administrative tasks, like:

  • Reaching out to family members, 
  • Making funeral arrangements, and 
  • Settling your loved one's estate. 

This comprises transferring property and other assets to their heirs. If your loved one had a last will, this makes the process of settling their estate easier.

The last will, or will, is a legal composition that lets a person choose what should happen to their estate after they die. In their will, they can even nominate an executor. If you are the executor of your loved one's will, they have chosen you to oversee their estate and fulfill their final wishes. 

But settling their affairs is more challenging than reading their will and following its instructions. You can hire the best probate lawyer in Dallas, Texas

In this post, we'll learn about the steps of probating a will, further knowing the time span and other essential facts.

Ready; Let's Dig Deeper!

Probating A Will:

If you are the executor of someone's will, you may wonder about your responsibilities or how to start the probate process. Although the process may vary state by state, below is a breakdown of the critical steps for probating a will.

  • Present the death certificate to the court

To start the probate process, file a copy of the death certificate with the probate court. You can be the one to do this if you are the will executor. Or else someone close to the departed can do it, like a family member or estate attorney.

  • File the testator's will

Testator is the legal term for someone who wrote a will — in this case, the person who passed away. If the deceased had a will, you must file it with the court. The filing deadline can also vary place by place. But it may usually be within 30 days to three months after the testator's death.

  • Validation is A Must

The court will review the will and make sure it is legally valid. They check for the document's date, the testator's, and the witnesses signatures. They may also call the witnesses to court to confirm the document's validity.

  • Appointing A Representative to Oversee 

When the court accepts the will, they'll name a representative to carry out the testator's wishes in the will. If you were nominated as the will executor, you'd likely be selected unless you decline or someone challenges its validity.

  • Identification

If you are an executor, create an inventory of the property and belongings of the deceased. Also, determine the value. You also have to identify outstanding debts (if any). This includes home mortgage, car loan, medical expenses, etc.

  • Beneficiaries and Creditors

While compiling a list of all assets and debts, you'll also reach out to the deceased beneficiaries (their heirs) and creditors (anyone they owe money to). 

  • Paying Debts

For assets going through probate, creditors are paid for outstanding debts before beneficiaries can receive assets from the estate. This may include funeral expenses, outstanding medical bills, taxes, and other debts. 

  • Assets Distribution To Beneficiaries

Once debts are paid, the rest of the estate is distributed to beneficiaries according to the testator's will. Estate assets may comprise:

  • Real estate property, including houses
  • Vehicles, including cars, campers, and boats
  • Bank and brokerage accounts
  • Pets
  • Family heirlooms and personal items, including clothes, books, and furniture
  • Digital assets, like cryptocurrencies

Someone Dying Without A Will:

If someone departs without a will, the process for administering their estate may slightly differ.

It would be best to still start by filing the death certificate with the court. The court will then assign a representative (also known as an administrator) to handle the estate (as the deceased didn't choose one themselves). 

Once this process is done, the administrator will distribute assets according to state intestacy laws. Intestacy laws determine the order in which heirs receive the property if someone doesn't have a will. Generally, this will first be their spouse or children, followed by parents, siblings, and extended family.

The Time Span Of Probate:

It may take around nine months to one year to probate the whole process. Remember, probate laws may vary from place to place. So, the length of time it takes to complete the process may vary as well. In some areas, the process is longer than expected and may take about years to complete. The time taken may depend on several factors, such as:

  • Which state the deceased lived in
  • The size of the estate
  • Whether the deceased had a will
  • If the will is contested in court

Contesting a will is unusual, but it does happen. And when it does, it might delay probate proceedings. Occasionally, beneficiaries challenge a will because they disagree with who receives specific assets. On the contrary, the legality of the will is questioned. For instance, if it wasn't correctly witnessed or was potentially written under pressure from someone else.

Making Probate Easier!

One of the best ways to make probate easier is by contacting the top law firm in Dallas, TX. At Nathan Law, PLLC, we cater to all your probate needs and assist you at every step of the way. The areas we cover under probate are probate with a will, probate without a will, muniment of title, determination of heirship, small estate affidavit, affidavit of heirship, breach of fiduciary, and more.

So, give yourself and your loved one peace of mind by ensuring the probate process runs smoothly!