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Navigating estate administration when a loved one dies

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2023 | Estate Planning |

If your spouse or parent has died, you may end up with many tasks and duties. In a time of grief, it can be difficult to think straight, so it’s perfectly acceptable to take some time to come to terms with the loss and process your emotions. As you begin the process of Texas estate administration, you may need to enlist support from several outside sources. First things first, however, you’ll want to contact family members and close friends of the deceased.  

If you are serving as executor to the estate, you’ll want to begin by gathering all your loved one’s assets and any documentation that exists that shows outstanding debt. You must also identify and contact beneficiaries to let them know they’re in line for an inheritance. If you encounter challenges because your loved one did not leave an organized portfolio regarding pertinent information, such as bank accounts, tax returns, credit card statements or other paperwork, you can ask someone well-versed in Texas estate laws to help you track things down.  

How does estate administration work if there is no will? 

If your loved one died without signing a last will and testament, his or her estate becomes intestate. This means it will pass through a probate court, and the state of Texas will determine how to distribute assets. The judge may choose to appoint you as administrator of the estate.  

Also, just because there is no will does not necessarily mean your loved one did not designate beneficiaries to inherit certain assets. For example, if he or she has a retirement fund, a beneficiary might be on the list to inherit benefits. Finally, if there is a will, you’ll want to make sure the names of beneficiaries for specific assets listed in the will do not conflict with those so named in a retirement fund or insurance policy.  

Handling a legal contest 

Coping with the loss of a loved one is less daunting if all family members and beneficiaries cooperate to carry out the decedent’s wishes. If someone steps forward to issue a challenge or contest the will, it can cause a lot of stress and spark family discord. 

You might be the one submitting a challenge, or you might be on the other end as the executor who is facing a challenge to the will. Texas estate laws are in place to govern such matters, and legal representatives are on hand to provide guidance and support as needed.