We understand that this worksheet is lengthy but by completing this worksheet, you will give the Duran Firm ALL of the information it will require in the typical uncontested case. Let's get started!
Section I. Information about the Applicant
Section II. Information about the Decedent
Section III. Decedent's Marital History
Section IV. Information Regarding the Decedent’s Will
A self-proved will contains NOTARIZED language at the end of the Will above the signatures that is nearly identical to the following:
I, [DECEDENT], as testator, after being duly sworn, declare to the undersigned witnesses and to the undersigned authority that this instrument is my will, that I willingly make and execute it in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, all of whom are present at the same time, as my free act and deed, and that I request each of the undersigned witnesses to sign this will in my presence and in the presence of each other. I now sign this will in the presence of the attesting witnesses and the undersigned authority on this ______ day of __________, 20________________.
The undersigned, [WITNESS] and [WITNESS], each being at least fourteen years of age, after being duly sworn, declare to the testator and to the undersigned authority that the testator declared to us that this instrument is the testator's will and that the testator requested us to act as witnesses to the testator's will and signature. The testator then signed this will in our presence, all of us being present at the same time. The testator is eighteen years of age or over (or being under such age, is or has been lawfully married, or is a member of the armed forces of the United States or of an auxiliary of the armed forces of the United States or of the United States Maritime Service), and we believe the testator to be of sound mind. We now sign our names as attesting witnesses in the presence of the testator, each other, and the undersigned authority on this __________ day of __________, 20______________.
Alternatively, the Will may have a "Self Proving Affidavit" attached to the back of the Will that is similar to the following:
THE STATE OF TEXAS
COUNTY OF ________________
Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day personally appeared [DECEDENT], [WITNESS], and [WITNESS], known to me to be the testator and the witnesses, respectively, whose names are subscribed to the annexed or foregoing instrument in their respective capacities, and, all of said persons being by me duly sworn, the said [DECEDENT], testator, declared to me and to the said witnesses in my presence that said instrument is [his/her] last will and testament, and that [he/she] had willingly made and executed it as [his/her] free act and deed; and the said witnesses, each on [his/her] oath stated to me, in the presence and hearing of the said testator, that the said testator had declared to them that said instrument is [his/her] last will and testament, and that [he/she] executed same as such and wanted each of them to sign it as a witness; and upon their oaths each witness stated further that they did sign the same as witnesses in the presence of the said testator and at [his/her] request; that [he/she] was at that time eighteen years of age or over (or being under such age, was or had been lawfully married, or was then a member of the armed forces of the United States, or an auxiliary of the armed forces of the United States, or the United States Maritime Service) and was of sound mind; and that each of said witnesses was then at least fourteen years of age.
In Texas a "holographic" will (a Will that is completely in the handwriting of the Decedent) need only be signed by the Decedent. No witnesses are required.
If the Will is not completely in the handwriting of the Decedent (it's typed or written out by another person), the Will must be witnessed by two persons. If the Will is not holographic, please provide the names to the witnesses to the Will:
The Texas Estates Code allows for a testator to allow for an "independent" or unsupervised administration of his or her estate. The will may specify an "independent" administration, may name an "Independent Executor", or may specify that "no action shall be had in the court other than the probating and recording of the will and the return of an inventory, appraisement and list of claims."
Section V. Information Regarding Decedent’s Heirs
The Texas Estates Code requires personal representatives to give notice to all will beneficiaries within sixty days of the date a decedent’s will is probated. Therefore, please provide the following information for ALL persons named as beneficiaries in the Decedent’s Last Will and Testament:
Section VI. Information for the Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims
Description of Decedent’s Assets (Do not include “JTWROS”, “POD” or other assets that transfer automatically upon the death of the Decedent.)
Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during marriage. A spouse's separate property consists of: 1) the property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage; 2) the property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift or inheritance; and 3) the recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage. All property that is acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property unless proven otherwise.
Section VII. Information Regarding Decedent’s Debts
Description of Decedent’s Debts:
Section VIII. Type of Probate and Venue
A muniment of title proceeding is a simplified probate wherein the court does not appoint an executor because no administration is necessary. The court’s Order Admitting Will to Probate gives the Will legal effect and constitutes sufficient legal authority to all persons to pay or transfer estate property to the persons described in the Will as the beneficiaries of the property. Most financial institutions, however, insist on only releasing estate funds to a court-appointed executor by requiring “Letters Testamentary” or “Letters of Administration” prior to releasing funds. In that event you have no choice but to ask the court to appoint an executor.
There is an option on where to have your probate matter considered. A court must have jurisdiction in order to enter a binding order. For probate matters, jurisdiction lies in the pobate courts, or sometimes county courts or county courts at law. Venue is the principle which determines which probate court r county court should consider the case. Jurisdiction cannot be waived by the parties, but venue can be waived.
The Collin County Probate Court allows the parties to waive venue and file their case in Collin County if all of the persons named in the Will and all of the persons who would inherit in the absence of the Will are in agreement with the probate of the Will in Collin County. Collin County is usually quicker and less problematic than are other area probate courts. Getting to the Collin County Probate Court is also easier for some who want to avoid downtown Dallas or Fort Worth.
The Duran Firm is comfortable practicing in all North Texas Probate Courts, so the decision is up to the Client.
I understand that the Duran Firm will rely on this Worksheet in order to complete work on my case and I have completed it to the best of my ability.
You may want to print this worksheet out, just in case something goes wrong. That way you can fax or email the printout without having to recomplete the worksheet.