The estate of a person who dies intestate will likely need to be settled by going to a Texas probate court. The probate process will determine how the assets will be distributed or transferred. Initiating a probate proceeding may limit the amount of time that a creditor has to make a claim against a deceased person’s estate. It can also provide clear guidelines as to who should receive assets that the decedent left behind.

Assets that are titled in the deceased person’s name only generally cannot pass to a new owner outside of the probate process. For those who were married at the time of passing, a surviving spouse may be appointed as the estate’s administrator. Other family members could be appointed if the decedent was not married or if the surviving spouse doesn’t want to fulfill this role. The probate process begins when the court is presented with a death certificate by the person who wants to act as the estate’s personal representative.

It is also necessary for the administrator to announce that the probate process is underway by publishing an ad in a local newspaper. If no one else steps forward seeking to be the estate administrator, the person who filed the petition for probate will be awarded the role.

A probate administration attorney might be able to help a person who is looking to settle a decedent’s affairs. Legal counsel could provide insight into where to file a death certificate or how to file a tax return for the person who passed. If legal challenges arise while a probate case is open, a legal representative may defend an estate against those challenges.