When a family member passes away, the surviving relatives must turn to a will or a probate court to determine how the deceased’s property should be distributed. To receive property, in the absence of a will, Texas probate law requires that you prove that you are a legitimate heir. To go through this process, it is often helpful to hire a probate lawyer in The Woodlands to assist with your case. Here is what you need to know about establishing yourself as an heir under Texas probate law.
A will is the most straightforward way to determine who is a legitimate heir. If there is a will in place, and no one contests it, then the will should state very clearly who the deceased intended to be an heir to his or her estate. If someone is not named as an heir in the will, then it is not possible to prove in court that he or she has a legitimate claim on being an heir without challenging the will. Challenging the will means proving that there is a legal reason it should not be considered binding.
If there is no will in place, then the estate will be decided in probate, and everyone who believes he or she should be considered an heir must file an application. Before heirship applications can be accepted, the potential heirs must establish that the deceased died without a complete will and that he or she had property in the state of Texas. There must also have been no administration of the estate, or, in cases where there was will, property must have been left out of the will. If these requirements are met, the applications for heirship can be submitted in a county in which the deceased owned property. The applications request information about the potential heirs and their relationships with the deceased. All potential heirs must sign the application, and if there are heirs that cannot be located, an ad must be placed in the paper to attempt to locate them. The court then uses this information to determine how to allocate the estate appropriately.