When a Texas resident passes away, his or her estate must be distributed among heirs and beneficiaries. The estate administration process refers to the action of gathering the decedent's assets, paying off the decedent's debts and ultimately distributing what is left to heirs. Estate administration can be a complicated process for the average person to carry out.
The complexity of the estate administration process can depend on the laws associated with the state in which the decedent resided. Also, in certain circumstances, an estate will have to be administered in multiple states, and different state laws will apply. For example, this could be necessary if the decedent maintained real estate property in more than one state.
Probate may also be a part of the estate administration process. Depending on the state where the probate occurs, and the size of the estate, probate could be as informal as (1) completing some basic paperwork, (2) getting a court-appointed estate manager, (3) paying outstanding debts, (4) distributing assets, (5) and getting the court to approve that distribution. If the estate is larger, or if there are heirs who dispute the will, formal probate proceedings may be required, with more court oversight. In formal probate, multiple court hearings may be required.
While many Texas residents may be able to navigate the estate administration alone, professional assistance could prove invaluable in certain circumstances. An estate administration professional will be able to use his or her experience and familiarity with the process to help steer family members clear of any common pitfalls. A professional will also be able to ensure that the decedent's wishes are carried out as he or she would have wanted.
Source: FindLaw, "How to Administer an Estate", , Oct. 8, 2014