Frequently Asked Questions About Probate

Is Property My Spouse and I Owned in Another State Community Property or Separate Property?

John and Jane Doe didn’t always live in Texas. Earlier in their marriage, they lived in another state, where John purchased a house the couple lived in and raised their children. Although they have since moved to Texas, they still own the house and spend summers there. How is the out-of-state property characterized as community … Read More

Can an Independent Executor Alter How my Property is Distributed?

A man who was named independent executor in a Will called me. Someone told him that because he was named as the independent executor, he had the right to distribute Testator estate any way he wished. He was calling to ask if that was true. It is not! The role of an executor is to … Read More

Who Can File An Application for Probate?

If an executor is named in a Will, then that person is generally the most logical person to file an application to probate the Will. The Texas Estates Code also provides that the applicant may be in “interested person.” An interested person is defined as: an heir, devisee, spouse, creditor, or any other person having a … Read More

Will Former Spouse Inherit Bank Account if Named as P.O.D. Beneficiary?

I received a note recently from someone whose brother had recently passed away. Her brother was divorced and had no children. He was survived by four siblings. Both his parents were deceased. His savings account designated his ex-wife as the P.O.D. beneficiary. The author wondered whether the ex-wife would inherit the money in the account. … Read More

What Happens if I Inherit a House with a Mortgage?

Some people are fortunate enough to own their homes free and clear when they die; however, many don’t. As a result, their homes pass to their intended heirs with a mortgage still attached. While the home is in probate, the executor of a Will should continue to make mortgage payments to avoid late fees and … Read More

When is it Proper to Use a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit is a legal document that can be used to transfer property to heirs without a formal probate. The use of a small estate affidavit is permitted in only limited circumstances. In Texas, heirs can take advantage of a Small Estate Affidavit if: The deceased person died without a Will; At least … Read More