Dad died without a will

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Dad died without a will

Brother and sister, Dad died, no will, no wives or other children. We live in Texas. Can I take death certificate to court and get letter stating the two of us have right to sell house etc. Things are just sitting there and I don’t know what to do.

Asked on April 16, 2009 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Our condolences on your loss. Without a Will, as his sole surviving heirs you'd inherit, but there are formal probate processes that have to be gone through.

Probate is designed to make sure all potential creditors of his estate and anyone else with a possible claim to the estate have notice and an opportunity to be heard. (It's always theoretically possible he executed a handwritten Will naming a neighbor or the church as his beneficiary, or promised to make a bequest to his college, of had secretly married someone else, or some person will walk in and claim she was his child outside wedlock, etc.  -- I know, it won't happen in your case but it has happened in enough other cases to require formal processes.)

Only after probate can title be legally transferred from your father's estate to the beneficiaries.In the meantime the probate court will likely appoint you as administrators or personal representatives of his estate.

Most states have really simple processes to handle this in very small estates, but as there is a house involved the value may cross the threshold.

While you possibly could do it yourself if the local probate court clerk is very friendly, has lots of time and shows you what to do, in most cases where full probate is needed it is sufficiently complicated that it is far more effective to hire a local probate lawyer to handle things for you. Our experience is that the lawyer's advice usually pays for itself, even if it comes to saving taxes when it comes time to sell the house.  Our affiliate www.AttorneyPages.com is a great place to look for probate lawyers -- check under wills, trusts and probate.


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