Checklist for the Texas Surviving Spouse, Trustee, or Executor – Part 3

Memento mori – “Remember that you have to die”

This is a five-part series designed to assist the surviving spouse, executor or trustee. The series is presented in a checklist format. Each checklist can be used independently and can also serve as a reference for successor executors and trustees.

Every estate or trust administration is different. This list is not intended to be a list of everything you will encounter in a Texas trust or estate administration and is for informational purposes only. The list is not intended to be specific legal advice for you. Estate administration is work, and it takes time. Finally, you should read the entire checklist, events and actions in a probate may not follow the order as set forth in this checklist.

Memento Mori - before filing for probate

The Probate or Trust Administration Phases

Over the next few posts we will examine in checklist format the following phases of the Probate or Trust Administration Process:

The checklist continues with the death of a loved one.

Part 3 – Before Filing for Probate

Please feel free to use our interactive checklist, in order to help you along your emotional and complex journey.

Locate a Probate Attorney. Our recommendation is to use a Board Certified Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer. In Texas, you have four years to probate a will. The Executor has no power until the will has been probated, the Executor qualifies, and the Letters Testamentary have been issued (Although, you should not avoid common sense considerations). Note: You cannot represent yourself in Texas Probate.

Schedule a Meeting with a Probate Attorney. Most Probate Attorneys have Probate Checklists & Questionnaires, so be sure to ask for yours before the meeting and take the time to complete it. Also be sure to bring the original will and relevant important papers to the meeting. Most initial meetings will last an hour or two.

Hire a Probate Attorney. Be sure to always use an engagement agreement. Most Probate Attorneys require a fee or cost deposit, so bring a method of payment to the meeting (Most firms take debit & credit cards).

Acknowledgment: The Probate Attorney represents the Executor or Trustee. The Attorney does not represent the Estate and generally, doesn’t represent the Estate Beneficiaries. The Probate Attorney is subject to the ethics rules of the State Bar of Texas and all its constraints. (Tip: Attorney’s cannot provide information to third parties without client consent).

Acknowledgment: Probate is a public process that involves the courts, so it can become quite complex. It often involves gathering information and estate assets, paying necessary expenses of administration, paying or resolving valid estate debts, and administering and distributing assets according to the terms of a Will or Trust. Probate only involves probate assets – not all assets are subject to probate (“Non-Probate Assets”).


What are the Next Steps?

In Part 4 we will provide information regarding Probate.

Regarding any Texas probate or trust administration, you are well advised to seek the assistance of a Texas Probate Attorney to help with the probate process. For questions regarding this topic or other probate or estate questions please contact The Wright Firm, LLP – Board Certified Texas Estate Planning and Probate Attorney & CPA – Paul F. Wright at (214) 780-9696 or

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