Time to Probate a Will in Texas

by Roger Thorne J.D. ; Updated July 27, 2017
You can't probate a will until its creator dies.

The probate process comes into play when a person in Texas dies leaving behind property. If that person also left behind a last will and testament, the will must be brought before a Texas probate court within a specific period of time so the court can determine its validity. Talk to a Texas probate lawyer if you need legal advice about a probate case issue.

Time Limit

According to Ford and Mathiason LLP, a Texas estate planning and probate law firm, a will must be presented to a Texas probate court within four years from the day the creator dies. Some Texas estates, however, use a "muniment of title" form of real estate transfer to pass on real property. This is a unique process in Texas, and in some muniment of title estates the time limit is extended past the four years, but only for the real estate subject to the transfer.

Intestacy

If the decedent dies without a will, or if the will is presented after the four year time period, the estate will be distributed in accordance with the Texas intestate succession laws. These laws choose the manner in which estate property gets passed on and may result in a person's estate being distributed in a manner contrary to the wishes expressed in the will.

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Invalid Wills

An invalid will is one that fails to meet the requirements imposed by state law. For example, Texas allows people to create holographic wills, wills that the testator creates solely in his own handwriting. If the will is not entirely in the testator's handwriting, or if the testator fails to sign the will, the will is invalid and will not be accepted by the court.

Probate Procedures

A Texas probate case is opened when a will is brought before the court, after which the court must determine whether the will is valid. Whether it is or not, the court will appoint a person to carry out the estate settling process. This person, called the executor or the personal representative, receives the court's permission to take inventory of all estate property, pay estate debts using estate assets and distribute the remaining property to the heirs.

About the Author

Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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