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A step by step guide to opening a probate


People starting a marriage or retirement need to plan for the future in Killeen, Texas. Estate planning helps families plan their future goals. It takes eight steps to open a probate estate with the correct state court. People can skip some steps without a will.

Wills of decedents

A will has various information such as special instructions for the funeral, burial or cremation. A will should have beneficiaries for the decedent’s items and estate. A will names the executor and may include a trustee or guardian. A will lists the date and location of the will’s signing along with witness signatures. Without a will, the wills and probate process starts with the first attorney visit.

List the beneficiaries and fiduciaries in wills

Family members should list beneficiaries and fiduciaries from the will. People should include detailed information to make wills and probate process easier. List the beneficiaries’ and fiduciaries’ addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers and dates of birth. The family needs death certificates for any deceased beneficiaries or fiduciaries.

The decedents important papers and liabilities

Family members should gather the decedent’s important papers. Important documents include life insurance policies, property deeds, car and boat titles, stocks and bonds or bank statements. Family members should complete a list of the decedent’s liabilities from the important papers. The decedent’s liabilities include mortgages, credit lines, loans or credit card bills. Other liabilities include utility bills, storage fees, property taxes or income taxes. The estate can pay them off liabilities in payments or all at once.

Review documents with a lawyer

Anyone in the will should go to the first meeting with the probate lawyer. If there’s no last will, the descendants-by-law should meet the lawyer. Descendants by law have a direct biological line to the decedent. The wills and probate process include several documents that vary by state. Documents can include acceptance of the executor​, petition for probate administration and order admitting the will to probate.

The estate planning lawyer sends the signed legal papers to probate court. A probate judge usually signs the documents in a few days while the lawyer gets the tax identification number from the IRS. The executor of the estate needs to secure a bond before probate opens. The executor of the estate should keep copies for their records.