How debts can affect the probate process in Texas

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2023 | PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - Estate Administration

Texas probate proceedings oversee the distribution of someone’s property and the resolution of their obligations after they die. Any resources that belong solely to the deceased party will become part of their estate. Their responsibilities, including their tax obligations and their debts, will pass to their estate as well.

The personal representative managing their estate will have the authority to distribute their assets in accordance with their testamentary documents or Texas state law. Any debts owed by the decedents can impact the value of their estate and the distribution of their resources. How can personal debts affect the probate process?

Debts take priority over inheritance rights

The most significant impact that debt has on an estate involves diminishing the total resources available. The personal representative of the estate will typically need to use estate property to pay off someone’s debts before distributing their remaining resources to their chosen beneficiaries.

Especially if there may not be enough in the estate to repay all of someone’s debts, careful adherence to state law will be crucial for the protection of the person handling the estate. They will need to send proper notice to all known creditors and pay them an order of priority before beneficiaries receive assets from the estate. Debts therefore also increase how long it takes to fully complete the probate process.

If the personal representative fails to notify and repay creditors, they may sometimes have personal responsibility for the value of any assets that they improperly distribute. The more debt that someone has when they die, the less their loved ones will likely inherit from their estate. For this reason and a number of others, properly handling debts is crucial to successfully completing the probate process in Texas.