In some cases, when an individual dies without a will in Texas, distributing the estate can be costly and burdensome. However, there are also many simple Texas probate options available when a person dies with no will. The Texas probate lawyers at Shutt Law Firm will provide a free consultation to see which probate alternative is best.
Here are some of the most common alternatives to probate when the a person dies without a Will in Texas:
The Small Estate Administration in Texas, often called the “Small Estate Affidavit,” is a process that avoids formal probate of a Will but still requires a probate filing in the probate court. To begin this process, an heir must file the small estate affidavit with the probate court clerk. After the probate judge reviews and approves the small estate affidavit, the affidavit can be used by the heirs to disperse assets to heirs, transfer property, and pay bills.
Even though this process is faster than probate, heirs must still properly execute the affidavit and file the affidavit in probate court, and the estate must be eligible for the small estate administration process.
As the name would imply, to be eligible, the estate must be… small. The Texas Estates Code states that an estate is small enough for this process if the value of the estate assets equals $75,000 or less, not including the homestead property.
For more on this process, consult the Texas Estates Code §205, or contact a probate attorney.
This is only available when there was no will and when the deceased person only left behind real estate. Here, instead of going to probate court, the heirs need only fill out the Affidavit of Heirship form and file it with the county clerk of the county in which the property exists. The form can be found at §203 of the Texas Estates Code.
Of course, the affidavit must be executed with the appropriate formalities in order to be valid. For example, two “disinterested” witnesses must swear to a specific oath as required by the Estates Code.
This process is only available when the deceased person dies without a Will in Texas. At the outset, note that this Texas probate alternative process may be the only option if the estate isn’t small.
The process requires at least one hearing in front of the probate court judge. Ordinarily, to start the Texas determination of heirship process, the probate lawyer for an heir files a court application with the probate court. Then, the court will hire an independent attorney to essentially track down and represent any unknown heirs. After the independent attorney conducts the investigation, the court will require a hearing at which two disinterested witnesses must testify as to the information in the application.
The advantage to this process is that when it’s complete, the probate judge’s declaration will give some finality as to who the heirs are and who is entitled to a share of the deceased person’s estate.