Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 5, 2020

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The probate eligibility of Texas estates is determined in part based on whether a will exists that lays out the decedent’s wishes for his or her property and assets. Estates without a will that are worth less than $50,000 can qualify for a small estate affidavit through the Texas probate courts. The costs of the small estate affidavit depends on the number of heirs, the complexity of the matter, and whether the heirs are difficult to reach. Estates without wills that are worth more than $50,000 may qualify for an heirship proceeding, in which a judge tries to locate the heirs of the decedent, then appoints an attorney ad litem to represent the heirs who cannot be found.

Estates that do have a will may be eligible for independent administration, a procedure that simplifies Texas probate law. In this case, a carefully-worded will designates an independent executor who distributes the assets without court interference or intervention. In addition, Texas has a unique probate law concerning estates that consist solely or mostly of real property and have no debts; in such cases, the probate court order essentially acts as a new deed to the property in question.

Estate planning and common sense lead to simple probate proceedings. However, if your case is contested or complex, you may wish to seek out the advice of an experienced Texas probate attorney.

For more information, check out our article on the Basics of Texas Probate