Texas Probate: Our Services

This services page about the Texas probate courts and our Texas probate services by the McNair Law Group, PLLC, and attorney Joy McNair is not legal advice.  It is for informational purposes only.  For advice specific to your situation, contact our law firm today at (281) 407-9830. 

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Texas Probate Laws: When Do You Have To Go Through A Probate Process In Texas?


Probate is a legal process that happens after someone passes away, and their assets have to be distributed among their beneficiaries. It ensures that all debts and taxes of the deceased are paid before their assets are transferred to their beneficiaries. In Texas, probate proceedings occur in court, and it is advisable to hire a probate lawyer to assist with the process.

If you do need to go through a probate process, there are several steps that can be taken to simplify the process. One smart step is to hire an experienced probate attorney in Texas. Your attorney will guide you through the process and help you navigate any legal complexities.

It is also essential to keep in mind that probate can be a costly and time-consuming process. In some cases, it may be best to avoid probate altogether by setting up alternative methods of asset distribution, such as trusts or joint ownership with rights of survivorship. These options can help bypass the probate process, minimize legal fees, and protect your assets from unwanted distribution.

deceased person

What assets must go through probate in Texas?

Not all of a person's assets will go through probate in Texas. Generally, only assets that are solely owned by the deceased and have no designated beneficiaries are subject to probate. These assets include:

  •  Real estate
  •  Bank accounts
  •  Investment accounts
  •  Personal property (such as cars and jewelry)
  •  Business interests
  •  Intellectual property (such as patents and trademarks)

However, assets with joint owners, designated beneficiaries, or are in trusts may not be subject to probate.

Here Are The Main Triggers of Probate in Texas:

1. Assets in your name alone: If you own property or accounts in your name alone, without any co-owners or beneficiaries, those assets will likely need to go through probate. This includes real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and other investments. If you don't have a will, the state's intestacy laws will determine how your assets will be distributed among your heirs, which may not be in line with your wishes.

2. Assets in joint tenancy: If you own property with another person in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the property passes automatically to the surviving owner without going through probate. However, if both owners die at the same time or in a common disaster, probate may be necessary to distribute the property to their heirs.

3. Assets in tenancy in common: If you own property with another person in tenancy in common, each owner has a separate share of the property, which can be passed to their heirs or beneficiaries upon their death. Probate may be necessary to transfer the deceased owner's share to their heirs or to sell the property.

4. Life insurance and retirement accounts without named beneficiaries: Life insurance policies and retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, usually allow you to name beneficiaries who will receive the proceeds upon your death. If you don't name any beneficiaries or if your designated beneficiaries predecease you, the assets may need to go through probate to determine who will receive them.

5. Assets with complex ownership or unclear title: If you own assets that have complex ownership structures, such as partnerships or LLCs, or if you have unclear title to certain assets, probate may be necessary to sort out the ownership issues and transfer the assets to their rightful heirs.

To avoid or streamline probate, you can take several estate planning steps, such as creating a trust, naming beneficiaries on your accounts and policies, and transferring some of your assets to a living trust or to co-owners. An experienced estate planning attorney can guide you through the process and help you achieve your goals.


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How Do You Avoid Probate in Texas?


Many people wish to avoid probate in order to save time and minimize costs. Some strategies for avoiding probate in Texas include:

  • Create a living trust: A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust before you pass away. This means that the assets are no longer considered part of your estate and are therefore not subject to probate.
  • Joint ownership: You can also avoid probate by transferring ownership of your assets to a joint owner, such as a spouse. This allows the assets to pass directly to the joint owner without going through probate.
  •  Beneficiary designations: Certain assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, allow you to designate a beneficiary. This means that the assets will pass directly to the beneficiary without going through probate.
  •  Seeking professional legal advice : Avoiding probate in Texas can be complicated, and it is important to seek professional legal advice to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and carried out. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create a comprehensive plan that meets your individual needs and goals.
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texas probate process

What Are The Stages of Probate in Texas?

Texas Probate Law: Our Probate Services

Our firm can assist you with many probate services in Texas, including:

  • Probating a Will

  • Probating an Intestate Estate (No Estate Planning)

  • Probate Administration

  • Texas Small Estate Affidavit

  • Texas Guardianships

  • Texas Conservatorships

Our office does not do estate and probate litigation. If you need help with highly contested estate matters, we are happy to refer you to an office that can assist.

We Help You Through The Texas Probate Process

Call our law firm at (281) 407-9830.

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