Texas Probate Procedures: How Soon Must You File?

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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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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The statute of limitations for filing probate in Texas is four years from the date of death. If you don’t probate the Will or if you don’t seek to submit the Will into probate within four years, then whatever benefit the Will may have created for you is lost. In other words, it’s as if you had no Will.

Determining heirship

Although you can’t do an administration of probate after the four year statute of limitations has expired, you can still do a proceeding to determine heirship. R. David Weaver, a Texas attorney with over 25 years experience whose practice offers a wide range of legal services including estate planning and probate, explained how this works:

With an Affidavit of Heirship, lets’ say a man dies, has a surviving wife and that he doesn’t own anything but his house. If he has a Will where he left everything to his wife, they’ll say, “There’s no point in admitting the Will because it’s only his house and the momma still lives in it.” So they just let it go. Then, eight or ten years later, momma dies and momma’s got a Will which says, “We leave it to the kids.” The kids say, “Okay, we need to go ahead and put this Will in,” which is fine except for you still haven’t handled poppa’s share of the estate [ his share of the house. So, you go through the process of doing the Determination of Heirship, probate the Will and together, those proceedings result in the transfer of the property to the children, if that’s who the beneficiaries are.

Texas Probate Procedures – Streamlined for surviving spouses

Texas has a streamlined proceeding which allows the surviving spouse to get an application to admit the Will as a Muniment of Title, and having admitted the Will as a Muniment of Title, the order essentially operates to transfer that title. Weaver explained how it works:

Generally, what the application says is that, “My husband has died. He left this Will. It’s attached. He leaves everything in the Will to me. There are no debts and I’m asking that the court enter an order saying that this Will is now the Muniment of Title.” The court enters that order and that’s what happens. The actual Will and the order are recorded with the county and are placed into the widow’s name. It’s an inexpensive process, very easy to do and can be done quickly, in about six weeks.

Click here to speak with an experienced Texas probate attorney. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.

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