How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Texas?

how much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate

When a loved one passes away, dealing with their estate can be taxing—emotionally and physically. In the midst of making burial arrangements and caring for your family, you must also settle their final affairs.

One of the most pressing questions for anyone dealing with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing is whether or not the estate needs to go through probate. Probate, in essence, is the process of locating, valuing, and distributing assets according to the will, all while settling the debts of the departed individual. It can be lengthy, costly, and overall a headache to deal with.

But here’s the twist: not all estates go through probate. In Texas, if the estate has no will and its total assets amount to less than $75,000, you can skip the probate process altogether. Sounds convenient, right?

However, the real challenge lies in determining whether your estate falls under that $75,000 threshold and which assets are included in this calculation.

In this blog post, our estate planning attorneys will demystify the asset evaluation process and provide the insights you need to navigate the probate landscape in the Lone Star State.

Understanding the Probate Process in Texas

In Texas, the probate process is governed by the Texas Estates Code. To initiate the probate process, the deceased person’s will must be filed with the probate court in the county where they resided. If there’s no will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate. The executor or administrator must also give notice to the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate. This ensures that everyone is aware of the probate proceedings.

Once the probate process is initiated, the duration can vary depending on the complexity of the estate and any potential disputes. However, in Texas, the probate process typically takes around six months to one year to complete.

During this time, the court will oversee the distribution of assets, payment of debts, and resolution of any legal issues. It’s important to consult a probate lawyer to navigate the process smoothly and efficiently.

Probate Vs. Non-Probate Assets: What Counts Toward The Estate?

Texas recognizes certain assets that bypass probate entirely and instead pass directly to designated beneficiaries. These assets include those held in a living trust, assets with designated beneficiaries like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, and jointly owned property with rights of survivorship.

This distinction between probate and non-probate assets carries significant implications. Estates primarily comprised of non-probate assets typically avoid the expenses and delays associated with probate.

Instead, they are distributed according to the instructions or designations made by the deceased person during their lifetime. This distinction can benefit larger estates, potentially allowing them to sidestep the probate process.

In Texas, some assets are exempt from creditors’ claims and protected from being included in the estate’s debts. Exempt assets include homestead property, certain retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, and annuities with designated beneficiaries.

Alternatives to Probate for Smaller Estates in Texas

When it comes to estates valued below $75,000 in Texas, there are efficient and cost-effective alternatives to the traditional probate process.

These alternatives are particularly valuable in simplifying estate administration and avoiding the complexities associated with probate.

Small Estates Affidavit (SEA)

The Small Estates Affidavit, often abbreviated as SEA, is a go-to option for those dealing with smaller estates in Texas. It offers an expedited and streamlined approach, bypassing the need for a full probate administration.

To utilize this option, interested parties must submit an affidavit to the court. This affidavit should include the deceased person’s will, if applicable, and a comprehensive list of the estate’s assets and debts.

Affidavit of Heirship

For very small estates, particularly those where the primary asset is real estate, the Affidavit of Heirship emerges as a suitable alternative. This affidavit comes into play when there is either no valid will or when the will does not specify an executor.

The Affidavit of Heirship serves as a sworn statement that establishes the identity of the deceased person’s heirs and their rightful claim to the estate. Preparing this document involves collecting pertinent information about the deceased person’s family members, their relationship to the deceased, and other relevant details.

Once completed, the Affidavit of Heirship is filed in the county real estate records of the location where the real estate is situated. Remarkably, this document itself can serve as evidence of title and ownership, making it a straightforward alternative for addressing small estates centered around real estate assets.

Contact The Titus Law Firm

The Titus Law Firm is your trusted partner in navigating probate law in Texas. Our team is committed to providing personalized legal guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.

Don’t let legal complexities overwhelm you – reach out to The Titus Law Firm today. We’re ready to listen, advise, and advocate on your behalf. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward achieving your legal goals.

Author Bio

Eddison S. Titus

Eddison S. Titus is the Founder of The Titus Law Firm, a Houston estate planning, business law, and real estate law firm he founded in 2016. He has successfully represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including will and trust creation, probate, real estate transactions, business formation, business and contract disputes, and business succession planning.

Eddison received his Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google