Dallas area Probate – What do you do when a family member passes away in the Dallas County, Texas area?


Fortunately, in the State of Texas, handling an estate is easy and inexpensive by comparison to other states.  The first thing you should do after someone passes away is contact a probate attorney for a free consultation.  The probate lawyer will walk you through all the steps and make the process as straightforward as possible.

If your spouse passed away, parent passed away, or sibling passed away, why first schedule a free consultation with a Dallas probate lawyer?

  • You many not need probate.
  • You may be eligible for probate alternatives.
  • You will know what is involved in distributing the property in the estate.
  • You can speed up the process of getting heirs their inheritance.

The probate attorney can help you deal with your family member’s property.

The list of property to deal with can seem overwhelming:  the house, car, retirement account, bank account, savings, furniture, other personal property.  What if the decedent had debts?  How do you transfer all the property to the correct people?  How do you know who inherits each piece of property?

Call the probate attorneys at Shutt Law Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation at (214) 302-8197 or schedule a probate consultation by clicking here.

What is Probate?

The root of the word Probate is “prove.”  So, probate is proving that a Last Will is valid for proving who the beneficiaries (heirs) are.

Probate is the legal process that is often required in order to distribute a deceased person’s property.    Some attorneys are dedicated only to Wills and Probate Law.  In fact, there are special courts and judges just for probate.

The Dallas Probate process starts with a consultation with the attorney.  The attorney will gather information from you and discuss the steps involved with probate.  Then, the attorney will file the necessary paperwork at the Dallas County Probate Court and schedule a hearing at the probate court.

At the hearing, generally, the attorney will ask the client a series of simple questions in front of the probate judge.  After this brief hearing, the court gives the client a document called “letters testamentary,” which gives the client the legal authority to handle the decedent’s property.

Who Hires the Attorney and Handles the Probate Process?

If the deceased family member left behind a last will and testament, the person named as the executor (or “executrix”) is the go-to person for the estate.  The executor is the person who usually attends the hearing at the Dallas County Probate Court with the lawyer and the person who receives the letters testamentary from the court.

If the family member did not leave a will, the process is very similar.  However, if the decedent died without a will, the probate attorney will have to take a few extra steps  as part of the process.  These extra steps generally mean that the attorney fees and probate court costs will be higher in the absence of a will.

Can You Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate is fairly common in Dallas County, TX.  There are several probate alternatives that may be available in your situation.  Some of these probate alternatives are cheaper and faster than traditional Texas probate.  However, probate alternatives are not available or recommended in every situation.  When you meet at our Dallas Probate Law Office, the attorney may suggest methods you might be able to use to avoid probate, including:

  • Small Estate Affidavit
  • Affidavit of Heirship
  • Muniment of Title
  • Probate with Order of No Administration
  • The lawyer may even advise that you don’t need to do anything at all, especially if the estate is insolvent.

How Long Does it Take to Handle a Deceased Individual’s Affairs?

Depending on how much property the decedent owned and how much debt was owed, the process can take anywhere from two weeks to two years!  Most often, from the time you hire the attorney to the time all the property has been distributed to the beneficiaries, it’s going to take between two months and a year.  The process can be finished more quickly if the executor is fast to accomplish the required tasks.

How Much Does it Cost to Handle an Estate Start to Finish?

The probate process is usually less expensive if the deceased died with a will that is valid under Texas law.  If the decedent left behind a will, the probate attorney fees generally start at around $1,000, and the probate court costs will be a minimum of about $300.

If the decedent died without a will (or a will that was not executed properly), the probate attorney fees will generally start at around $2,000, and the required probate court fees will exceed $1,200.  By the way, if a person dies without a will, we call that “intestate.”

Also, if the deceased person didn’t own much property and didn’t have much debt, the estate may qualify for a small estate affidavit.  The small estate affidavit is a document filed with the Dallas Probate Court, and it can cost as little as $700 for attorney fees (plus Dallas probate court filing fee).

Typically, the estate pays the attorney fees and court costs, not the executor.  The executor shouldn’t have to pay out of his/her own pocket for these costs; in fact, some wills even say that the executor should get paid “reasonable compensation” from the estate in exchange for working with the probate lawyer, attending the Dallas probate court hearing, and otherwise handling the decedent’s financial affairs.

If your Husband or Wife died, Mom died, Dad died, or brother or sister died, schedule a free consultation with the Dallas probate attorneys at Shutt Law Firm.  Call (214) 302-8197 or use the online form to contact us.  A lawyer dedicated to this unique legal practice can help you with each step of the probate procedure or help you find an affordable probate alternative.


Shutt Law Firm is conveniently located in Richardson, TX, near the intersection of highway 75 and Arapaho Road.


The Dallas probate attorneys at Shutt Law Firm have been dedicated to estate planning and probate law for more than a decade.  Schedule an appointment to discuss probate alternatives, the steps involved in the probate process, and how simple Dallas probate can be.






The Dallas County Probate Court serves many residents of Dallas, TX, Richardson, TX, Carrollton, TX, Mesquite, TX, Rowlett, TX, Garland, TX, and surrounding smaller towns. As such, contact Shutt Law Firm, PLLC, if you’re searching for a free consultation with a Dallas probate attorney, Mesquite probate attorney, Richardson probate attorney, Garland probate attorney, Rowlett probate attorney, or Carrollton probate attorney.