Losing a loved one will always be difficult, even when the death is expected. But as you grieve, you also need to keep their estate in mind and make sure the assets are properly distributed. The estate administration process, often referred to as probate, refers to the process of settling your loved one’s estate in full. Though every situation is different, your Dallas estate administration lawyer will help guide you through each step of the process. Here’s what you can expect during probate.

estate planning paperwork

The Collection and Appraisal of Assets

Regardless of your loved one’s will or estate plan, your estate administration lawyer will still need to collect your loved one’s assets and inventory them for the estate. This includes items like artwork, properties, cars, investments, and other assets that have tangible and real value. Once all of your loved one’s assets are collected, they’re inventoried and appraised. 

During the appraisal, your estate administration attorney will call knowledgeable experts in to assign a monetary value to the assets. This information may be used for tax purposes. 

Settling Remaining Debt With Creditors

Once all assets have been appraised, your Dallas estate administration lawyer will work on settling any remaining debts your loved one left behind. It’s the administrator’s job to notify creditors that your loved one passed away and to use the funds from the estate to pay off what they can. 

This helps prevent the burden of debt from being passed on to heirs and ensures that creditors get what they are owed. Creditors have a right to settlement and must be paid before any money from the estate can be distributed to the heirs. Depending on the amount of debt your loved one had, this may take away from what they intended to leave you.

The Distribution of Assets to Appointed Heirs

Once all debts have been repaid, the estate administrator will distribute the remainder to the appointed heirs. If your loved one created a will describing how they want their estate divvied up, the administrator will follow their wishes. But if your loved one dies without a will, the situation becomes more complex. 

The administrator will follow the law of intestacy to ensure fair disbursement of the estate. In Texas, this means the estate will pass to the deceased’s closest family. If they have children and grandchildren, the estate will go to them. If they died without heirs, the estate passes to the next closest relation. This may be a surviving cousin or a second cousin.

The Probate Process Can Take Time

The entire probate process can take weeks and even months to complete. But your estate administration lawyer will do everything they can to speed the process up. As long as you stay in close communication with them, you’ll know where things stand every step of the way.
At Norris & Weber, our experienced Dallas estate administration lawyers have helped families and individuals navigate the probate process with confidence. If you’re ready to create a will and need a dedicated professional to oversee the estate when you pass, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.