Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate is settled and distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. It can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful attention to detail and knowledge of Texas probate law.
If you are responsible for managing a loved one’s estate or are going through the probate process yourself, there are several important pieces of information that you will need to locate.
Records to Locate for a Texas Probate
When someone dies, their heirs and other interested parties have to piece together the information needed to probate the estate using various documents. Information to locate for probate purposes can include:
- The original will and trusts
- Birth certificate and Social Security card (for the decedent and children)
- Marriage licenses and divorce decrees
- Military discharge paperwork
- Immigration paperwork
- Assets and title paperwork, such as car registrations
- Debts and written evidence as to the amount of the debts
- Health and life insurance policies that may pay out
- Liability insurance policies that may cover lost property
- Any open credit or service accounts that need to be terminated
- Government benefits information such as social security benefits
- Lawsuits that are pending, judgments, or liens
Finding a Deceased Person’s Records
When a loved one passes away, finding their important records can be a challenging and emotional process. These records can include various legal documents, financial statements, insurance policies, and other critical information. Here are some tips for finding a deceased person’s records.
- Search Personal Belongings and Safe Deposit Box
Start by searching the deceased person’s personal belongings and safe deposit box. Many people keep important documents such as their will, insurance policies, and financial statements in a safe place where they can easily access them when needed. Look through any files or folders that may contain information about the decedent’s financial affairs.
- Contact the Decedent’s Lawyer or Attorney
If the decedent had a lawyer or attorney, they may have a copy of various legal documents on file, including the will, trust agreements, and power of attorney documents. Contacting the attorney who drafted these documents is often an effective way to locate them.
- Contact Financial Institutions
Financial institutions where the decedent held accounts, such as banks and investment firms, may have records that are important to locate. These records can include bank statements, investment account information, and life insurance policies.
- Reach Out to Government Agencies
Government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Health and Human Services may also have records that are important to locate. These records can include Social Security statements, veterans benefits information, and Medicare or Medicaid information.
- Contact Family Members or Loved Ones
Family members or loved ones of the decedent may have knowledge of the location of important records or be named as beneficiaries in various legal documents. It’s important to reach out to anyone who may have been close to the decedent during their lifetime, including friends, neighbors, colleagues, and business associates.
6. Checking the Decedent’s Mail
Other records can be obtained by simply checking the decedent’s mail regularly. This can yield bank statements, insurance policies, tax documents, and legal notices. If you are the personal representative or executor of the estate, you may be able to change the decedent’s mail to your address by filing a change of address form with the post office. This can help ensure that all important documents and information related to the estate are sent to you directly.
Locate Government Records
There are several other sources of information that can be helpful in the probate process, including the SSA, IRS, state tax authorities, credit reporting agencies, and public records.
- Social Security Administration (SSA)
The SSA can provide information about the decedent’s Social Security benefits and survivor benefits that may be available to their dependents. This information can be helpful in determining the value of the estate and identifying potential beneficiaries.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The IRS can provide information about the decedent’s tax liability and any outstanding tax debts. This information can be helpful in determining the value of the estate and ensuring that all taxes are paid before distributing assets to beneficiaries.
- State Tax Authorities
State tax authorities can provide information about any state-level taxes that may be owed, such as estate taxes or inheritance taxes. It’s important to understand the tax implications of probate in your state and work with a tax professional to minimize your tax liability.
- Credit Reporting Agencies
Credit reporting agencies can provide information about the decedent’s outstanding debts and credit accounts. This information can be helpful in identifying potential creditors and ensuring that all debts are paid before distributing assets to beneficiaries.
- Public Records
Public records such as property deeds, court records, and business filings can provide valuable information about the decedent’s assets and liabilities. It’s important to conduct a thorough search of public records to ensure that all assets and debts are accounted for.
In conclusion, locating the necessary information for probate can seem like a daunting task, but it is a crucial step in the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. By gathering all relevant information and understanding any potential challenges, the probate process can be carried out smoothly and efficiently. Seeking the guidance of an experienced probate attorney can also help alleviate any confusion or stress during this challenging time.
Do you need help with a probate matter in Houston or the surrounding area? We are Houston probate attorneys. We help clients navigate the probate process. Call today for a free confidential consultation, 281-219-9090.
If you need help with your Texas probate matter, call us today for a FREE attorney consultation at (281) 219-9090.
Our Houston Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients, including helping locate probate records. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process. We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters. Call us today for a FREE attorney consultation.
The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information presented may not apply to your situation and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney. We encourage you to seek the advice of a competent attorney with any legal questions you may have.