| Read Time: 4 minutes | Probate

The Texas Probate Code is a set of laws that govern how a deceased person’s property, or “estate,” is handled after they pass away. Whether you’re dealing with losing a loved one or planning for your own future, understanding the Texas Probate Code can be helpful. This blog will give you a basic overview of some critical components of the Code.

Remember, this blog is meant to give you a general understanding of the Texas Probate Code and does not replace talking with a lawyer. Every probate situation is different, and an experienced attorney can give you specific advice for yours. The probate lawyers at Robbins Estate Law are here to help you through the probate process. We can explain your options, help ensure your loved one’s wishes are followed, and protect your rights. Call Robbins Estate Law today or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of settling an estate. This involves several steps, including:

  • Identifying and valuing all the assets in the estate. This includes bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings.
  • Paying off any debts of the deceased. This could include credit card debt, medical bills, and unpaid taxes. The estate will use its assets to settle these debts before anything else. 
  • Distributing remaining assets. Once all debts are paid, the remaining assets will be distributed according to the wishes expressed in the deceased’s will. Texas law will dictate who receives what if there is no will. 

Your will can name an executor, who is the person responsible for carrying out the above steps and the instructions in your will. If you die without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the probate process. 

Do I Need Probate?

Not all estates need to go through the full probate process in Texas. The size and complexity of the estate are the most common determinants, specifically:

  • The value of the estate. If the estate’s total value is below a certain amount (currently $75,000), it may qualify for a simplified probate process.
  • Types of assets. Certain assets, like life insurance policies with named beneficiaries, may not need to go through probate. 

Understanding whether probate is necessary can help streamline the estate settlement process and reduce legal complications. If you have questions, speaking with an attorney can provide clarity on what your specific situation requires. 

Wills vs. Intestacy 

A will is a legal document that allows you to specify how you want your assets distributed after you die. Think of it as your final instructions for your loved ones. In your will, you can select:

  • Who receives your belongings. This can be anything from your jewelry collection and family heirlooms to your car and house.
  • How much each person inherits. You can divide your estate equally among your beneficiaries or leave specific amounts or items to particular people.
  • Who cares for your minor children. If you have young children, you can appoint a guardian in your will to raise them if you and the other parent are no longer alive. 

If you die without a will, you are considered to have died “intestate,” and the probate code in Texas will determine how your assets are distributed. This can lead to unintended consequences, so having a will is generally recommended. 

What Are the Requirements for a Valid Will in Texas?

The Texas Probate Code outlines the requirements for a valid will in Texas. These include:

  • In writing and signed. The will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person the will is for). Holographic wills, which are handwritten and signed by the testator, are also acceptable in Texas.
  • Witnesses. The will, unless handwritten, must be attested by two or more credible witnesses. 

Failing to meet these requirements can result in the will being deemed invalid, leading to potential legal complications and disputes. 

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

If you die intestate, the Texas Probate Code outlines how your assets are distributed. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Spouses and children. If you have a surviving spouse and children, your assets will generally be divided between them according to a set formula. 
  • Surviving spouse only. If you have a spouse and no children, your spouse will typically inherit your entire estate. 
  • Children only (no spouse). If you have children but no spouse, your entire estate will pass to your children, typically divided equally.
  • No spouse or children. If you have no spouse or children, the Code looks to your parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and other relatives to inherit your estate.

The breakdown of asset distribution can quickly become complex when multiple descendants are involved. It’s best to contact an experienced attorney to help you understand the legal outcome of your situation or ensure your wishes are carried out properly by drafting a will.

Here for You: Making Probate and Estate Planning Easy

As the most responsive estate planning and probate law firm in Austin, Texas, we are committed to making the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. You’ll never feel intimidated or rushed when seeking answers from us, and we promise transparency with flat fee quotes—no hidden fees or surprises. 

Take the first step toward clarity by filling out our free probate or estate planning questionnaires. Whether a loved one has recently passed or you need help planning for the future, Robbins Estate Law is here to provide the guidance and support you need. 

Contact us today to get your free quote and experience estate planning and probate made easy. 

Author Photo

Kyle Robbins

Kyle Robbins is the founder and sole owner of The Law
Offices of Kyle Robbins. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.S. in Food Chemistry and Microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

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