Do I have to probate my husband’s Will?

UPDATED: Mar 23, 2013

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Do I have to probate my husband’s Will?

First off in my state the house is protected by the “Widows Law”. I am the beneficiary of my husband’s retirement money. I have 2 stepchildren fighting to get 1/2 of the money, community property, etc. Would it be wiser to insist on probating the Will that is home made (not done at an attorney’s office) or just give them 1/2 of everything?

Asked on March 23, 2013 under Estate Planning, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You do not have to probate your husband's will, but it would be wise to make a list of all of your assets and let a probate attorney review the list to make sure that a probate would not be helpful in dealing with the situation that you face.  If you have a right of survivorship with the house-- then as you state, the house is protected and you don't have to split the house.  If you are the designated beneficiary of the retirement plan, then you don't have to give half to the kids.  Considering that it is extremely difficult for a retiree to survive on a fixed income, you should not give anything to the stepkids that (a) you don't have to or (b) just don't want to.  A probate attorney can help review all of your records, titles, and list of assets to make sure that you are protected.  They can also help you prepare a written response to the stepchildren detailing what you are willing to give and not give based on the will and current probate laws.  Probate attorneys are not hugely expensive--but it will cost you just a bit.  However, the expense will help buy you peace of mind that the matters involving your husband's estate are in order and that your finances are protected. 

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