What is the process of probate if there is no Will?

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What is the process of probate if there is no Will?

My mother passed and my ste parent has filed for administrator. I have no issue; I would only like a few personal items of mother’s for family heirlooms for her grandchildren. A ring and items that were my grandmother’s. I am not able to receive these items, as my stepparent is abusive and an alcoholic, and I live in another state. I have been asked to sign a waiver and I do not know why I should sign. I am told a citation will be served and this will give me updates on the courts probate processing of my mother’s estate. I do not have the time or money to be in court. How will the court get any items to me that I requests? I can’t afford a lawyer.

Asked on April 1, 2015 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Probate is the process where the heirs are notified of the management of the estate.  The executor or administrator will have to file certain documents with the court to confirm their actions on how they have managed certain gifts.  If the step parent is abusive, I would be leary about signing a waiver.  Some waivers are generic-- i.e. just waive the putting of the papers in my hand.  However, others ask you to waive any future notice of hearings.  You don't want to do that because then she can proceed however she would like with no notice to you. 

You don't mention the state that you live in, but usually state's have attorney's that are licensed in more than one state.  I know you cannot afford an attorney for full representation, but consider hiring one just to draft you an answer that you can then mail into the probate court.  It will only run you $100-300 depending on who you hire to do the drafting--which is substantially cheaper than full representation.  If your state does not have a Texas attorney, arrange for a phone consult with a Texas attorney.  We have several here that offer that type of service.   If you cannot afford an attorney at all, you may try to find an online form that will help, but just keep in mind that many of these new online form banks are sometimes too generic to help a person meet their objectives.

In your answer, you may want to list the items that you are seeking so that you put the court on notice.  However, do not limit your relief to those items.  Your mother may have arranged for additional gifts that you do not want to waive an interest in.

As far as how to get those items, it will depend on the size and character.  The administrator may just be able to mail them to you and you can ask the court for the same.  However, if these items are that sentimental, I would suggest-- make the drive.  I love the post office, but loosing something that is emotionally irreplaceable is heartbreaking. 


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