The Texas Probate Courts, a division of the County Trial Courts, have the authority to hear and decide matters concerning wills, estates and distribution of a deceased person’s (called a decedent) property. The probate procedure begins when a person dies and an heir or a personal representative (the person appointed to oversee the probate process) files a petition in the probate court located in the county where the decedent died.
Obtain the proper probate forms. Texas County Courts should be able to provide you with the proper form or give you information on how to obtain the proper form. Some forms are available on the Internett (see Resources). The “proper” form depends on the decedent’s estate; small estates (those worth less than $50,000) can file a Small Estate Affidavit and Order; estates with a will and without any debts can file an Application for Probate of Will as Muniment of Title Form; estates with a will and debts can file an Application for Probate of Will and Issuance of Letters of Testamentary; estates without a will must file an Application of Determination of Heirship and For Letters of Administration.
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Complete the proper form obtained in Step 1. Attach additional pages to the forms as necessary. Typically, you must list an estimate of the decedent’s assets (which may be lengthy), detail the decedent’s heirs and creditors, and provide basic information about the decedent (his name and where he lived).
File the completed forms in the Probate Court located in the county where the decedent died. You must pay filing fees. The fees will vary depending on the type of probate procedure. For instance, as of 2010, it cost $260 to file an Application for Probate of Will and for Issuance of Letters (for estates with a will and with debts), whereas it costs $637 to file for an Application for Determination of Heirship (for estates without a will).
Ask the clerk to provide you with receipts after filing. Once you file your forms with the probate court and pay your fees, the clerk should give you a receipt. The paperwork will be processed and the court will notify you as to any hearings and meetings.
Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.