What are the different types of probate in Texas?

Are there different types of probate? 

When a loved one passes there are different types of applications that can be filed with the court to probate the estate. The type of action that needs to be filed will rely on whether your loved one had a will, how much time has passed, and the value of the estate. 

Muniment of Title 

This type of administration is used when there are no unpaid debts, or the family has agreed how the debts will be paid and who will pay them. This type of filing comes with advantages and disadvantages. Using a muniment of title can be cost-effective and a quicker process but not all title companies will accept this type of probate. You will need to sit down with a lawyer and go over the estate to make sure this is the type to file. 

Independent Administration

This type of administration can be used whether there is a will or not. Here, all distributees (heirs to the will) must agree on an executor, that is, someone to administer the estate. If there is a will, this person should be named in it, if there is not a will, the heirs can agree on someone to serve. 

Here, the applicant is requesting the executor be named an independent executor and that there be no other action in the court process. If there is a will, the judge will grant the order so long as the will is valid. If there is no will, all parties will need to agree before the order will be granted. 

Small Estate Affidavit 

This administration is used for an estate with assets of $75,000 or less and when there is no will. The assets do not include a homestead and exempt property (an attorney can go over with you what the exempt property is). Also, you must wait 30 days from the time your loved one passes before it can be filed.  

This type of administration requires that all distributees and two disinterested witnesses (non-heirs) sign the affidavit. The small estate affidavit is also less costly and a quicker process. 

Do I Even Need to Probate?  

In some situations, there is no need for any type of probate administration. Any property that is held as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship will pass automatically. This could be a bank account having both you and your loved one’s name on it and upon death, it will pass straight to you. Funds from life insurance policies and survivor benefits that come from an annuity also do not need to be probated, they will pay out upon death. 

As you can see, there are many different options that can be used when probating an estate. It is best for you to talk to an attorney to go over your loved one’s estate and see which option is best for you and your family. One of our attorneys would be happy to sit down with you and discuss these options.