Common Questions (And Answers) About Texas Probate

Probate is complex – even in Texas, which has a simpler process than many other states. It’s understandable to have many questions, whether you are currently planning your estate or have recently lost a loved one.

Thankfully, straightforward answers and skilled help are available when you contact Elliott Estate Law, PLLC. I am firm founder John Elliott, and I personally give each client the benefit of more than 15 years of legal experience. I am also board-certified in estate planning and probate. On this page, I’ve answered some of the probate questions I get asked most often. After reading, you can contact me for answers to any additional questions you may have.

How much does an estate need to be worth to go to probate in Texas?

There is no minimum value an estate needs to go through probate in Texas. However, under Texas law, certain estates can avoid probate if they are worth less than $75,000 and the decedent did not leave a will. In such cases, the estate assets can be transferred through affidavits.

The answer above is somewhat oversimplified because there are factors other than estate size that influence probate. Moreover, the value of an estate can change based on whether certain assets have been removed from it by being put into a trust or by being passed through means other than probate. Some of these factors are discussed below.

How do you avoid probate in Texas?

The most common tool for avoiding probate is the revocable living trust. When you create an RLT, you can transfer estate assets into it while retaining control over them. The trust is revocable, so you can alter or end it at any time while you are still alive. It becomes irrevocable when you pass away, at which point assets are distributed to beneficiaries named in the trust.

Trusts necessarily bring added expense and complexity, which means they are not desirable for everyone. I can discuss other estate planning tools which may help you avoid probate as well, including transfer-on-death deeds, beneficiary designations and joint/ownership tenancy with survivorship rights.

Which assets go through probate?

Any assets which would be included in a will are subject to probate. This would normally include everything from real estate to possessions to financial assets. However, assets are exempt from probate if they are governed by one of the probate avoidance tools discussed above. If an  asset is passed through a transfer-on-death deed, for instance, that asset stays out of the probate process.

How long does the probate process take?

This really depends on the size and complexity of the estate. For a small estate with few heirs and no legal complications or disputes, probate could be completed in just 30 days. Most estates take longer than that, and especially complex or contested estates could spend years in probate.

As your attorney, my goal will be to help you complete probate efficiently and cost-effectively. We can discuss the specific timeline once I’ve had a chance to examine all the details.

Contact My Firm For Case-Specific Advice And Guidance

Elliott Estate Law, PLLC, serves clients in Houston, Texas, and surrounding areas. To schedule an initial consultation about your probate needs, contact me online or call 713-936-4264. I will personally work with you and your loved ones throughout the duration of your legal matter.