In Bexar County, Texas, a person can find a will that has been admitted to the probate court. After a will has been filed for probate with the Bexar County clerk’s office, it becomes public record. The Bexar County Probate Courts serve the county seat of San Antonio and surrounding areas.
Address for Bexar Probate Courts
The Bexar County probate courts are located at 100 Dolorosa, San Antonio, TX 78205. There are two probate courts, Probate Court 1 in Room 117, and Probate Court 2 in Room 123. Phone numbers for the probate courts are: 210-335-2546 for Probate Court 1 and 210-335-2678 for Probate Court 2.
Search Probate Records Online
A person can view probate records online using the Bexar County Odyssey Portal. This website allows searches of the county’s civil cases to find out if a person has applied for probate. The searcher looks up the case record number or the deceased person’s first and last name.
The two search options through the Odyssey Portal are Smart Search, which requests the case record number or the deceased person’s first and last name, and Search Hearings, which searches for court hearings within a specified date range.
The search may show that the will exists, but does not provide access to a digital copy. In that case, the person will need to eFile, mail or go in person to the probate department to request the copy of the will.
Getting a Copy of a Will Through a Court Records Search
As of February 2023, the fees for probate records in Bexar County are:
- $1 per page for plain copies.
- $5 for certified copies, per document, plus $1 per page.
- $7 for exemplified copies, per set, plus $1 per page.
A certified copy of a will is a copy of the original will that is stamped and identified as true by the clerk of court. An exemplified copy of a will is an official copy of the will confirmed by the clerk of court as authentic with the clerk of court’s signature and a formal seal or stamp attached.
A party requesting a copy of a will should provide the name of the deceased person and the probate case number, if available, for each request.
Submitting Requests to the Bexar County Courthouse
Copies cannot be faxed or emailed to a customer. The person requesting should make a check or money order payable to Lucy Adame-Clark, Bexar County Clerk Probate Department and send requests by mail to: Lucy Adame-Clark, Bexar County Clerk, Probate Department, 100 Dolorosa, Suite 104, San Antonio, Texas 78205.
Public Records Search for Real Property
A person can search for land records at a different portal, using the Bexar County clerk’s official records search. How they find probate records online in Texas depends on the county that holds the records because different counties have different portals for online searches. For example, Travis County has its own portal to search case data.
Definition of Letter Testamentary
A letter testamentary is a document that the probate court grants to the executor of an estate. The executor is the person named in the will to administer (pay debts and distribute assets) a deceased person’s estate. The document gives the executor the authority to take actions on behalf of the estate.
In order to receive a letter testamentary, a will must be filed and admitted to probate. The fee for an application for probate of a will is $390. There is an $8 fee for the issuance of a notice or citation.
Small Estate Affidavit
In Texas, an estate is eligible to be classified as a small estate if the deceased person died without a will, and the value of the estate assets, excluding the homestead (the residence where the deceased person lived) and exempt personal property, is $75,000 or less.
A small estate affidavit is a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation that verifies the value of the estate. It is filed in probate court instead of a will. This document is public record. A person can obtain a copy of the small estate affidavit from the Bexar County clerk’s office.
Declaration of Heirship
When there is no will, a person may submit an application for declaration of heirship to the probate court. This is a proceeding to identify the deceased’s heirs and decide what assets they will receive. The fee for the application of declaration of heirship alone is $445.
An administration is the appointment of an individual to administer (pay debts and distribute assets) of an estate when there is no will. In order for the court to appoint an administrator, the person who wants to qualify to become the administrator must apply for a letter of administration. The fee for administration and declaration of heirship is $475.
Challenge Validity of a Will
If a will contains a no-contest clause, and the person challenging the will is unsuccessful in their court case, they may be subject to forfeiting all or part of the property that has been given to them in the will. The language of the will determines how much property they may lose. Reasons to contest a will include:
- Improper execution: Will was not created in the right manner. For example, the testator or a person acting at their direction did not sign the will.
- Undue influence: Someone exerted improper pressure on the person signing the will to coerce them into taking certain actions. For example, if a beneficiary was buying groceries for the decedent and threatened to stop unless they left them property in the will, this would be exerting undue influence.
- Revocation: Person signing the will had revoked the will by destroying it or creating a new, valid will.
- Lack of capacity: Person signing the will did not understand their actions nor their effect when they signed the will. For example, they suffered from dementia and thought they had signed a home repair bill.
- Fraud or forgery: Someone enacted a fraud upon the person signing the will, such as tricking them by telling them the document was a homeowner’s insurance policy. For forgery, they may have forged the other party’s signature.
- Mistake: Person signing the will did so by mistake. For example, they thought they were signing a receipt, but signed the will instead. Without a showing of fraud or undue influence, a mistake will not invalidate a will.
- Bexar County Probate Courts: Homepage
- Bexar Country: Public Records Searches
- Bexar County, Probate Department: New Fee List, Effective January 1, 2022
- Bexar County Odyssey Portal: Homepage
- Travis County Clerk, Texas: Search Case Data
- Bexar County County Clerk: Probate Division
- Texas Estates Code: Title 2 Estates of Decedents, Chapter 205 Small Estate Affidavit
- The Bexar County Courthouse website has an option to search for records. Will records are not included in this online index. The index primarily contains deeds and land records.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.