How Long Do I Have to Probate a Will in Texas?
When a loved one dies and leaves property that has not already been transferred and received by a beneficiary, in order to distribute property according to a Will in Texas, a Will must first be admitted to probate. Probate is the process in which a court legally recognizes a person’s death and oversees the payment of a deceased person’s debts and the distribution of his or her assets. In Texas, state and local court rules govern the various time periods that an individual must follow in probating a will, but the general rule is that an individual has four (4) years from the date of the death of the decedent to initiate probate. If the will is not filed within the four (4) year statutory prescribed period, the laws of intestacy will govern how the decedent’s assets pass and will be distributed.
Under the laws of intestacy, the decedent and his estate will be treated as if the decedent died without a will. If the four (4) year statutory period has expired, Decedent’s will and its contents, including their specific wishes, will no longer control or be taken into consideration. Instead, Decedent’s property and assets will pass based on familial proximity. This means that a deceased’s spouse, children, parents, and siblings may all be eligible for certain percentages of the estate, depending upon what familial configuration existed at the time of the decedent’s death.
The primary reason for the four (4) year statute of limitation to probate a will is to protect subsequent purchasers of a decedent’s real property against claims of superior title. As such, the four (4) year statute of limitations period can only be defeated under very limited circumstances. This is determined on a case by case basis and holding a Will due to a family agreement or simply not knowing that a Will must be probated within four (4) years, is not a valid reason.
If you a concerned that a probate of your loved one’s estate might have been required and mistakenly not performed, or you would like to discuss the requirements to probate a will according to Texas law, the attorneys at Waldron & Schneider, PLLC are here to assist. For more information regarding Estate Planning, Probate Matters, or Real Estate, please see more posts and information on our website, or feel free to contact our offices directly.
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