What needs to be done legally when a loved one (mother, father, husband, wife, spouse, parent, etc. ) passes away?


First, let us say that we are sorry for your loss.  Losing someone you love, whether it be a husband, wife, mother, father, other family member or friend, is such a difficult thing to go through.   While there is no comparison to the love and support from friends, coworkers and family who can help you deal with the personal side of your loss, we can offer some general practical information that may lessen your worries about what needs to be done. 


No one needs to add stress to their grief by getting worried that they will miss a deadline to settle legal matters.  Here are some things that may help you decide what you need to do right away.

and remember...we're here to help.  

Set an appointment for a Free Consultation

The best and easiest thing to do right away is to set up a free consultation with one of the attorneys at Crane Lane, LLP.  This will allow you to get legal advice about your unique situation. 

Until then, here is some general information that may help.

Time Deadlines:

The State of Texas requires that a Will needs to be filed within four years of a person's death.  If this is not done, the intestacy rules will apply, and the estate will be distributed as if the decedent had not done a will at all. 


Under most circumstances, however, it is best to start probate proceedings as soon as you feel you are ready for the task.  There is generally no benefit to waiting for a prolonged period of time and it may help you feel less stressed about things when they have been settled.

Initial Documents/Information to gather:

1.  Decedent's original Last Will and Testament  - needed for probate filings 

2.  Death Certificate  - ordered from County   

3.  Find the Executor/Executrix named in the Last Will & Testament and notify them of their designation and determine their willingness to serve in that capacity

What happens when a Will goes through Probate (step by step):

The size of the estate, type of property owned by the estate and the legal documents that were prepared to deal with the closure of the estate (will, trust, no documents etc.) will determine what happens next.  Here's a very general guideline:

No Will or Trust - If the decedent had no will or trust to present to the Court, the estate is deemed to be Intestate and the Texas Rules of Intestacy will automatically apply.  The steps listed below are simplified, and would need to be expanded in certain cases, such as dual applications for Administration, etc.

What happens in the Probate Procedure if there is a valid Will?

1.  Contact Crane Lane, LLP to set an appointment. 

2.  Crane Lane LLP will file the original copy of decedent's Last Will and Testament with the County Clerk.

3.  Application to be Appointed Executor/Executrix will be prepared by the attorney and subsequently filed in the County Clerk's office.  

4.  The Probate Court will issue Letters Testamentary.  Letters Testamentary are official Court documents that provide other parties with evidence that the Executor/Executrix has been legally declared to serve as the representative of the Estate and can conduct business as such.

5.  Crane Lane LLP will conduct a search for additional creditors and lien holders, according to current legal specifications, as required by law.

6.  Crane Lane LLP attorneys will prepare an official Inventory of the Estate according to current legal specifications, as required by law.

7.  These documents are filed with the Probate Court.  Upon completion of a hearing to verify that the application and all supporting legally mandated requirements are in order, Letters Testamentary will be issued.  Letters Testamentary will provide the Executor/Executrix with evidence that they have legal authority to conduct business on behalf of the Estate of the Decedent.