The Four-Year Rule

Statistics show that there have been more deaths in Texas over the past four years than in any previous four years in Texas history.  In fact, death counts in Texas have been trending upward for quite some time mostly due to the steady increase in Texas’ overall population.   Therefore, probate is perhaps in greater demand than ever before. 

What is probate?  Probate is the legal process one goes through to gain the requisite authority to manage and dispose of a deceased person’s assets.  Probate is often necessary when someone leaves behind real estate, vehicles, financial accounts, and/or other valuables.  There are a number of types of probate, which vary in length of time and expenses, and it should be noted that one’s options for probate is dictated by whether the decedent had a will or not.  Most commonly, probating a will is less expensive and quicker than probating a decedent’s estate when there is no will.

One thing to remember when probating a will, is that The Texas Estates Code Sec. 256.003(a) requires that a will must be probated before the fourth anniversary of the decedent’s date of death, otherwise, an applicant for probate of a will is required to give proof that they are not in “default” in failing to present the will for probate on or before the four-year deadline.  While proving that an applicant is not in default may be fairly attainable, as Texas courts are fairly liberal in permitting a will to be offered as a muniment of title after the four-year deadline, doing so will likely require additional steps, which means more time and more money.     

At TCV, we know losing a loved one is difficult for a plethora of reasons, and that’s why we pride ourselves on being a reliable resource for you to lean on.   If you’ve lost a loved one recently, or perhaps not so recently, and you need help transferring their assets to their rightful beneficiaries, please contact us at 512.263.5400 or  Initial consultations are free, and we’d be happy to assist you down the correct probate track.