When a Texas resident dies, whoever is in possession of the will must generally file it with the appropriate court as quickly as possible. However, it is worth noting that it’s not always necessary to follow through with a probate proceeding after completing this step. If an estate is insolvent, there may be no need to notify creditors, beneficiaries or others of a person’s death.
Failing to file a will is generally a civil penalty
In most cases, failing to file a will won’t result in jail time, probation or other criminal penalties. However, you may expose yourself to civil lawsuits from anyone who experienced a financial loss because of your actions.
Filing the will can put pressure on creditors to act
Creditors have up to a year after a person’s death to file a motion to collect an unpaid balance. However, if you initiate the probate process, creditors could have as little as four months to file a claim against your estate. An attorney may help you verify the validity of any claims that are actually made.
You’re under no obligation to serve as an estate executor
It’s important to understand that you are not obligated to serve as an executor even if you have been appointed to be the estate’s representative in the decedent’s will. Furthermore, any costs associated with filing the will are paid for by the estate. Therefore, you don’t have to let a lack of time, money or willingness to participate in the probate process dissuade you from filing the will if it’s in your possession.
If you have any questions about your responsibilities after a person dies, it may be a good idea to talk to an attorney. He or she may be able to make sure that you fulfill your obligations in a timely manner. A legal representative may also represent your interests in court if you a creditor or beneficiary sues you.