What happens to a person's assets when they pass away? In Texas, their estate may need to be probated. Probate is the process used to transfer ownership of the deceased person's assets to their beneficiaries or heirs and paying off their debts. Usually an estate must be probated within four years of a person's death.
When someone dies with a valid will, they are said to have died "testate". When their estate is probated, their assets will be distributed according to the terms of their will.
When someone dies without a valid will, they are said to have died "intestate". When their estate is probated, their assets will be distributed according to the Texas laws of intestate succession.
In some cases, there are alternatives to a full probate of the estate. These include Muniment of Title, Affidavit of Heirship, and Small Estate Affidavits.