A probate court is a court of limited jurisdiction that has jurisdiction over the probate of wills and the administration of estates in Texas. Probate courts are usually operated at the county level, although there are a few county-level courts that operate independently of the regular probate courts. How do you know how to pick the right probate court?
To file the probate application, one must first decide which court has jurisdiction and which court should handle the probate court. There are several different types of courts that can handle probate matters. Before picking the court, one must first determine which Texas county can hear the matter and then find the court that has jurisdiction over probate matters in that county.
The Texas County to Start With: Definition
The choice of what county to start the court proceedings in is relatively straightforward in cases where the decedent resided in and all property and parties are located in the same county. But what if the decedent lived in one county (or outside of Texas), died in another Texas county, and had property in yet another Texas county?
There are a number of factors and rules to consider, but generally, Texas law provides jurisdiction for the courts in the following counties:
- If the decedent was a resident of Texas, the probate proceedings will generally be brought in a court in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of death.
- If the decedent did not have a domicile or residence in Texas but died in Texas, the probate proceedings will generally be brought in the county where the decedent’s property is located or the county where the decedent died.
- If the decedent was not a resident and died outside of Texas, the probate proceedings will generally be brought in the county where the decedent’s next of kin resides.
Failing these options, the probate proceedings will generally be brought in the county where the decedent’s property is located.
Once the county is selected, the next step is to find the court within that jurisdiction that can hear the probate case.
Texas Courts that Hear Probate Cases: Number
There are four different courts that handle probate cases in Texas. More than one court may have concurrent jurisdiction. This means that you may have a choice as to what court to use.
The most populous counties all have statutory probate courts. For example, in Houston, Harris County, there are four statutory probate courts. These specialized probate courts use the name “probate court” in their name. If the county has one or more statutory probate courts, these courts will typically handle the probate cases.
The more populous counties in Texas also have one or more county courts at law. If the county does not have a statutory probate court but has a county court at law, the county court at law will typically handle the probate cases. In the absence of a statutory probate court or a county court at law, the constitutional county courts may hear probate cases. It should be noted that the limit on the amount in controversy that applies to constitutional county courts and county courts at law does not apply in probate matters.
District courts can also consider probate proceedings in some instances. This is not all that common.
What are Probate Proceedings? The Law and Judge
There are a number of different matters probate courts can hear. This includes:
- The probate of wills.
- Issuance of letters testamentary and letters of administration.
- Heirship determinations, small estate affidavits, community-property administration, or homestead or family allowances.
- Actions related to the probate of a will or estate administration.
- Will construction lawsuits.
These courts can also hear matters related to probate proceedings. The Texas Estates Code defines “matters related to probate proceeding.” This definition includes many actions and claims that are related to the decedent or the estate.
Once the court is selected, the next step is to submit the probate application. The probate application is then submitted to the court clerk.
Do You Need to Hire an Experienced Probate of Wills Attorney in San Antonio?
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What does probate mean?
Probate is the legal process that is used to settle the estate of a deceased person. The probate court is the court that has jurisdiction over probate matters.
What is an estate?
An estate is a collection of assets and debts belonging to a deceased person, also known as a decedent. These assets are distributed to people named in a legal document called a will. If there is no will, the assets must go through a court process.
How long does probate court take?
The length of time for probate varies from state to state, but in most states probate can take anywhere from six months to a year or longer.
How does probate work?
When a person dies, their property must be transferred from the name of the deceased person to the name of the person who will inherit the property. This transfer is called probate. A probate is the transfer of property from the name of a deceased person to that of a beneficiary.
What does a county probate judge do?
Probate judges are responsible for administering the estates of deceased persons who have died without leaving a will. A probate judge is responsible for determining the validity of wills, paying tax debts, and making sure that heirs receive any property left by the deceased individual.