A Family Member Died Without a Will in Texas.  What Do I Do?

This page provides information about what to do if a family member died with no Will in Texas.  If a loved one died without a Will, there are several Texas probate alternatives available.  “Probate” is the first step in handling your loved one’s estate.  Whether the loved one has only a small estate or a very large estate, some form of probate is probably necessary to distribute the assets to the heirs.

Depending on your specific situation, the probate alternative could be both very affordable and fast.  To find the best probate method, or to see if you may be able to avoid probate, contact a probate attorney for a free consultation.  At the consultation, the lawyer will discuss your options, the costs, and the legal process.



What Are The Texas Probate Alternatives When There Is No Will?


Here is a list of the three most common alternatives to probate in Texas when there is no will:

Affidavit of Heirship:  If the decedent only owned a house or other real estate property, the Affidavit of Heirship is an affordable and effective method of transferring title to the decedent’s heirs.  This method is extremely fast and affordable.  However, the Affidavit of Heirship is not best for every situation.  For instance, many title companies or mortgage companies may not honor an Affidavit of Heirship until it has been in the county’s real property record for five years.

Small Estate Affidavit:  If the decedent’s property was worth less than $75,000 all together, not including the decedent’s homestead, the estate may qualify for the small estate affidavit.  The small estate affidavit is inexpensive and generally fairly quick.  It is a document filed with the probate court.  After the probate court approves the affidavit, the affidavit can be used to transfer the decedent’s property to the heirs.

The small estate affidavit is most appropriate when the decedent died with just a bank account, and the bank needs probate court documentation in order to transfer the funds.

Determination of Heirship:  This procedure is best suited for situations in which the decedent owned more than $75,000 in assets.  A Determination of Heirship involves several court filings and at least one probate court hearing.

When your probate attorney files for a Determination of Heirship, the probate court will hire an independent attorney ad litem to represent unknown heirs.  The probate court hearing will occur after the attorney ad litem completes his/her investigation in the case.

Determination of Heirship is akin to traditional probate when the decedent left a will.  Traditional probate proceedings and Determination of Heirship proceedings are very similar, though Determination of Heirship involves a few additional legal steps.


By the way, when a person dies without a will in Texas, we call that “dying intestate.”  So, the laws, courts and legal forms refer to “intestate succession” or “intestacy” when a Texan dies without a will.


Contact Richardson, Texas, probate attorneys at (214) 302-8197.  You may also use the Online Contact Form to send the attorney a message.  When you use the online form, the attorney will contact you shortly to discuss your options or to schedule a free, no-obligation probate consultation.








Shutt Law Firm, PLLC is a probate law office conveniently located in Richardson, TX near the intersection of Highway 75 and Campbell Road.  The law office provides:  probate law for Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Garland, Mesquite, and the surrounding Dallas County and Collin County.  The probate lawyer can answer your questions regarding how to avoid probate, avoiding probate, estate probate court, what is probate, ways to avoid probate, wills and probate court, how to avoid probate, probate court attorneys, parent died without a will, died with no will, died without a will, heirship.