Welcome to Probate 101 which is a series of explanations intended to summarize and simplify the Texas Probate Code and Probate Procedure. This educational series has been prepared by a Texas attorney experienced in handling a variety of probate matters for the non-legal professional. The topics will cover the most common issues confronting most Texans. This series is intended for guidance and is not intended to be legal advice.
Definitions made simple.
Testate: to testify or leave instructions for the settlement of a person’s own estate once the Testator is deceased. To die with a valid will.
Intestate: to die without leaving instructions for the settlement of a person’s own estate once the Testator is deceased. To die without a valid will.
Intestate succession: Statutory provisions for disbursement of the assets of an estate in the event that the decedant failed to leave a properly executed will or the will left fails to qualify as a will.
Determination of heirship: A probate procedure for determining who the heirs of an estate are and what portion of the estate is each heir entitled.
“Devise,” when used as a noun, includes a testamentary disposition of real or personal property, or of both. When used as a verb, “devise” means to dispose of real or personal property, or of both, by will.
“Devisee” includes legatee.
“Distributee” denotes a person entitled to the estate of a decedent under a lawful will, or under the statutes of descent and distribution.
“Estate” denotes the real and personal property of a decedent, both as such property originally existed and as from time to time changed in form by sale, reinvestment, or otherwise, and as augmented by any accretions and additions thereto (including any property to be distributed to the representative of the decedent by the trustee of a trust which terminates upon the decedent’s death) and substitutions therefor, and as diminished by any decreases therein and distributions therefrom.
“Heirs” denote those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statutes of descent and distribution to the estate of a decedent who dies intestate.
“Legacy” includes any gift or devise by will, whether of personalty or realty.
“Legatee” includes any person entitled to a legacy under a will.
“Property” includes both real and personal property.
“Will” includes codicil; it also includes a testamentary instrument which merely: (1) appoints an executor or guardian; (2) directs how property may not be disposed of; or (3) revokes another will.
…Stay tuned for Part Two!