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Do you still have to go through probate if there is no will?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2021 | Blog, Estate Planning |

Some people think that they will not have to go through the probate process when their Texas loved ones die without wills. However, even without a will, the estate will likely have to be probated. How the probate process works when people die intestate is similar to how it works for people who die with wills. However, the asset distribution might be different.

Appointment of an administrator

People who write wills normally appoint an executor. This person is responsible for paying the debts and taxes of the estate, inventorying the assets, contacting beneficiaries and creditors, paying the legal fees, and distributing the assets according to the terms of the will. When a person dies without a will, the court will choose someone to serve as an administrator. A probate administrator’s duties are largely the same as those of an executor. However, the court chooses who to appoint instead of the decedent.

Distribution of assets

People with wills can choose how their assets will be distributed. They can divide their assets however they wish and leave property to charities, distant relatives, and friends. When people die without wills, the state’s intestate succession laws control how assets will be distributed. Only close family members, such as a surviving spouse, children, or parents will normally receive assets. Distant relatives will only receive assets if no immediate family members are left. If the person does not have any surviving family members or distant relatives, the estate will go to the state.

Most people want to have some say about how their estates should be handled once they die. Failing to write a will means that the state laws will control instead of their wishes. Not writing a will might not help to avoid the probate process, but it might mean that the decedent’s wishes will not be followed.