Based on whether a deceased individual created a will, a Texas probate court judge may have a significant role in distributing his or her assets. As noted by SmartAsset, if you die with a will, the probate court judge has responsibility for proving its validity and discovering any objections.
With a valid will, your named executor submits it to probate to wrap up your affairs, which includes opening an estate bank account. The judge generally authorizes assets for distribution and identifies the heirs or beneficiaries listed in your will. If no party contests the will, the judge reviews it and signs an executor’s orders to settle the estate.
Presiding over a will dispute
If heirs contest a will, the judge’s role becomes substantial and demanding. The judge must review the evidence and listen to arguments concerning why an asset should not transfer to a will’s listed beneficiary.
Disputes may include subpoenas, motions and court hearings. They may require a significant amount of time and evidence to enable the judge to determine an outcome. A judge has the authority to settle the disagreement and issue a final ruling or opinion.
Distributing property without a will
As noted by Chron.com, dying without a will grants the judge permission to distribute property according to the Lone Star State’s intestate succession rules. The judge may also appoint an administrator to assist the court in settling the deceased’s financial affairs. This typically includes paying debts and taxes.
The Texas Estates Code requires the probate judge to transfer ownership of an intestate deceased’s property in a particular order. Under Section 201.001, the assets of an individual who dies without a surviving spouse pass on to his or her surviving children. By creating a will, however, you may provide instructions to settle your estate quickly and according to your wishes.