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What is probate?

The term “probate” refers to a variety of processes which involve the transfer of a person’s assets after death and the conclusion of the person’s affairs.  The processes used to probate an estate vary depending on whether a person died with a will (i.e. “testate”) or without a will (i.e. “intestate”).  Probate laws and processes vary from state to state, and there are many myths concerning the difficulty, time involved, and expenses associated with probating a deceased person’s estate.  The information on this site discusses the most common processes available in Texas in general terms and is not intended as legal advice.  Every estate is different, and the only way to determine the appropriate procedures for a specific estate involves providing legal advice after appropriate consultation and investigation of the facts.

Generally speaking, if a person dies with a will the process of “probating the will” refers to submitting the will to a probate court for validation.  When a will is offered for probate the process can also involve the appointment of a personal representative (i.e. “executor”) to conduct an estate administration if necessary.  In Texas, it is also possible to probate a will as a muniment of title if an estate administration is unnecessary. 

If a person dies without a will, state law dictates how a deceased person’s property is distributed among the decedent’s family or heirs.  Probating an estate of a person who dies without a will generally involves having the court declare identity of a person’s heirs, and the appointment of a personal representative (i.e. “administrator”) if an estate administration is necessary.

What is involved in the process of estate administration?

The process of administering a deceased person’s estate involves three basic steps: (1) gathering the person’s assets, (2) dealing with the decedent’s creditors, and (3) distributing the remaining assets pursuant to the will or in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws.  The ease or complexities of completing these three steps will depend on many factors such as the nature of the decedent’s property, the number and type of the decedent’s creditors, and family relationships.

Choosing the right attorney to assist in navigating the probate process effectively and efficiently can be daunting.  Our firm has developed a concentrated focus in this area to better serve our clients.  If you have questions about the probate process, please contact our office to arrange a consultation.

Estate Planning

When the term estate planning is used, most people envision writing a will or creating a living trust, but in reality a comprehensive estate plan can involve much more than just a will or trust.  Our firm uses a comprehensive estate planning approach to address a variety of planning issues besides death such as planning for any future incapacity and creditor protection for the beneficiaries of the estate plan.  Our lawyers are also experienced with a variety of techniques to address complex scenarios presented by taxable estates, blended families, same-sex relationships, and family owned businesses to name a few examples.

A properly prepared estate plan can provide peace of mind to you and your loved ones.  If you are interested in learning more about the planning process, please contact us to arrange a consultation.


Barnes Lipscomb Stewart & Ott PLLC
Rollingwood Center
2500 Bee Cave Road
Building Two, Suite 150
Austin, TX 78746
Office: 512.328.8355
Fax: 512.328.8413

Email Patricia T. Barnes*
Email Barbara J. Lipscomb*
Email Ellen P. Stewart
Email John R. Ott*
Email Evan Johnston

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