Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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No, there is no need to probate the will. In Texas, with a very small estate, you can avoid probate by using a Small Estate Affidavit. You can simply distribute the personal possessions pursuant to the will. You can access the bank account by using the Small Estate Affidavit and you can actually use these first to pay funeral expenses before being obligated to use the rest for creditors. :)
No worries. Typically, in this situation, because there are no other assets, and if there is no controversy among the beneficiaries, you would do the affidavit as if there was no will because the will has not been filed and there is no disagreement. Rather, you are simply doing this to access the funds to be distributed in the same manner.
Yes.....the Affidavit is in lieu of the Letters of Testamentary. :)
You don't need a lawyer for this. If there is no will, the person is deemed to have died intestate. The Texas Estates Code sets forth the priority of inheritance. Here is a link to the statutory provision setting forth who is entitled to inherit: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ES/htm/ES.201.htm