It is always difficult after losing a beloved family member to focus on administering the loved one's estate. Assuming that the decedent has died leaving assets in his or her name, then those assets will have to be administered through a process known as estate administration. In the ideal case in Texas and elsewhere, the decedent will have left an updated will specifying the disposition of his or her assets after death.
The decedent will also have appointed a personal representative in the will to serve as the person who will be in control of probating the estate. The personal representative is the coordinator and central administrator of the decedent's estate. His or her duties include identifying and collecting the assets, generally turning those assets into cash, using the funds to pay the decedent's valid bills incurred up to the date of death, and administrative expenses. If there was no will, a qualified family member may apply to act as an administrator.
In starting the estate, the personal representative will file the will and estate papers, and take the oath of office in front of the clerk of the appropriate county office. In all but the simplest and smallest estates, the personal representative will retain an attorney who is experienced in estate administration. The attorney will prepare the initial estate filing, explain the process thoroughly to the personal representative and accompany the representative on all court appearances.
Because a seasoned estate administration attorney in Texas will be knowledgeable about the twists and turns that may occur in estate matters, the personal representative and the attorney will work closely together to process everything legally and expeditiously. If there are disputes over the disposition of the assets in any respect, the attorney is a valuable source for assisting in the effort to find a resolution. It is also critical to bring the estate to a proper legal conclusion after all tasks have been completed and the remaining assets are ready for final distribution. Court approvals may be needed in some instances and full releases with refunding bonds must be obtained from all parties with an interest in the estate assets.
Source: qchron.com, "The importance of proper estate administration", Alexander Bader, Aug. 13, 2015