A will allows individuals in Texas to state their preferences for how their property will be handled in the event of their death. This type of document essentially acts as an instruction manual for the probate court, which oversees estate administration along with will-related disputes. With wills, people can feel confident that their assets will be distributed according to their desires when they pass away.
In large estates, the probate process is the only way for people to legally transfer their assets in line with their wills. However, only probate assets, or those that a probate court can transfer, are controlled by a will. Some assets simply do not need to go through the probate process.
Assets for which probate is not necessary include the proceeds from life insurance. These proceeds are paid directly any beneficiaries designated in a deceased person’s policy. In addition, property that is held in joint tenancy does not have to go through probate; instead, the dead person’s interest in the property immediately goes to the joint tenant who is still alive. Property that is held in a living trust can also bypass the probate process, as a will generally does not control how it is distributed.
Estate administration is a complex process that requires a thorough understanding of the law in Texas. Proper legal guidance can help people to properly address several aspects of probate and estate administration, including will validation and identifying beneficiaries as well as property distribution and handling will contests. Taking these steps can provide surviving family members with much-needed stability following the death of a loved one.
Source: FindLaw, “Estate Administration: The Will After Death“, Accessed on Sept. 10, 2015