The probate court can “set aside” certain property in an estate so that it will be exempt from creditors. This is typically done immediately after an inventory, appraisement, and list of claims is filed. The surviving spouse and minor children of the Decedent have the right to use the Decedent’s exempt personal property during the pendency of the estate administration. According to the Texas Property Code, the “exempt personal property” set-aside consists of a certain amount of personal property, such as furniture, clothing, provisions for consumption, jewelry, vehicles, tools of the trade, sporting equipment, firearms, two horses, mules or donkeys and a saddle, 12 head of cattle, 60 head o f other livestock, 120 fowl, and household pets, etc. The aggregate value of the property cannot exceed $60,000 for a family, or ~30,000 for a single adult. Setting aside this property will protect it from most creditor’s claims and forced sale.
The exempt personal property will not be liable for any estate debts other than Class 1 claims, which include funeral expenses and expenses of last sickness. As with the homestead, the exempt personal property remains subject to debts secured by valid liens on the property. In addition, exempt personal property is most likely not protected from federal tax liens.
When the estate is finally settled and if it is solvent, then tl1e exempt property is subject to being partitioned and distributed among the heirs and distributes as any other property.