Do Wills Need to Be Filed With a Court?

By A.L. Kennedy

A will needs to be filed with a court after the death of the testator. This filing begins the probate process which ensures that the will meets legal requirements and gives out the estate according to the instructions in the will, according to FindLaw. Though not a requirement, a will may also be filed with the court before the testator's death for safekeeping.

A will needs to be filed with a court after the death of the testator. This filing begins the probate process which ensures that the will meets legal requirements and gives out the estate according to the instructions in the will, according to FindLaw. Though not a requirement, a will may also be filed with the court before the testator's death for safekeeping.

Courts

Most states have separate courts that handle wills known as probate courts. If your state has a probate court, you must file the will with this court in order to open the estate for probate. Some probate courts accept a will before the testator's death, but will not initiate probate until the testator dies. In states that do not have probate courts, you can file the will with the branch of the state courts that handles wills, such as the superior or district court.

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Filing Before Death

Courts that accept a will filing before the testator has passed away may ask the testator to leave a list of people who are permitted to pick up the will from the court after the testator dies. If no one picks up the will, the court may open the will and initiate the probate process under its own power.

Filing After Death

When the testator passes away, a living relative or the executor must file the will with the probate court in order to begin probate. The will cannot be acted upon until probate has begun. The executor may request the court to begin probate if the will is filed with the court for safekeeping. If the will is not filed with the court, the executor or another relative must bring the original will to the court to file it and begin probate.

Additional FIlings

When a will is filed with the court after the testator's death, it has to be accompanied by several additional filings. The most common is the petition to open the probate estate, which asks the court to start the probate process. An executor may also need to file a petition for Letters Testamentary, which is a power given to the executor by the court that allows her to do the things required to probate the estate.

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Wills in Probate Court

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How Soon Are Wills Executed After a Death?

Executing a will, or carrying out the instructions in its text, can begin as soon as the will is filed with the probate court. The will may be filed as soon as the testator, who wrote the will, has passed away. It is often in the beneficiaries' best interests to file the will as soon as possible, as probate may take several months.

Requirement to File a Will After Death in Texas

On the death of a Texas resident, the laws of probate court govern the handling of wills. Probate is the process of "proving" that the will is valid, and that its instructions conform to the law. During the probate process, the court grants letters of administration to the executor, and oversees the handling of the estate. The case begins with the filing of the will in the probate court having jurisdiction in the county where the deceased lived.

Are Wills Filed With the State?

When a person dies, his will must be filed with the county or city probate court. Although probate courts are an arm of the state or local government, they function independently, so filing the will with another state office will not be enough to ensure that the will is probated. Instead, the will should be filed directly with the probate court, along with any paperwork the court requires.

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