Heirship Proceedings

Experienced Houston Probate Administration Attorneys Helping to Establish Heirs’ Legal Rights

Creating a last will and testament allows a person to outline how they want their property distributed upon their death. Wills also provide clarity in terms of the deceased’s wishes, which can reduce probate disputes. However, recent estimates suggest that roughly two-thirds of Americans do not have a valid will in place at their time of death.

In this case, Texas courts rely on the state’s intestacy laws to determine who will receive the estate assets. At The Probate Law Group in Houston, TX, our dedicated team of attorneys help heirs establish their legal right to inheritance through heirship proceedings.

Heirship proceedings are a crucial legal process to establish the rightful heirs of a deceased person’s estate. Through this process, you can receive Letters of Administration. This official document grants the Administrator the authority to manage and distribute the deceased’s assets according to Texas intestacy laws. Heirship proceedings ensure the correct heirs receive the estate, while the Letter of Administration serves as the Administrator’’s legal proof of authority, streamlining the settling of the estate. Understanding and navigating these procedures is essential for a seamless estate administration. Contact us today for a consultation.

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    In Texas, heirship refers to the legal system of inheritance that courts use when someone dies without a will or, in legal terms, when someone dies “intestate.” In these circumstances, Texas law dictates how a deceased person’s estate will be divided among their surviving relatives. The process begins with an heirship proceeding, a legal proceeding conducted to determine who the decedent’s heirs are and what percentage of the estate they are entitled to receive.

    Heirship is most important when the deceased did not have a valid will in place when they died. For example, if there is a will, the will dictates how the deceased’s property will be distributed. However, without a will, courts distribute assets according to the Texas intestacy laws.

    However, heirship proceedings also arise when the deceased had a will that left our certain property. In this situation, the court will distribute all assets included in the will according to the terms of the will and distribute any remaining assets based on the intestacy laws. Heirship can also be important when the terms of a trust require the trustee to determine the heirs of the deceased.  

    Heirship may also come into play if the will was invalid for any reason, such as it was the product of coercion. If there was a prior will, the court would distribute the estate’s assets based on that will. However, if there is not a prior will, the laws of intestacy will be applied. 

    If someone dies without a valid will, the court must determine the deceased’s heirs before it permits the distribution of estate assets. To do this, the court holds an heirship proceeding, usually at the request of the personal representative. 

    To initiate an heirship proceeding, the personal representative must file an Application for Proceeding to Declare Heirship under Texas Estates Code § 202.005. In this application, the personal representative must provide the following information:

    • The name of the decedent;
    • The time and place of the decedent’s death;
    • The names and addresses of all heirs, as well as their relationship to the deceased;
    • A list of all marriages, including the name of the spouse, date of marriage and date of dissolution, if appropriate;
    • Whether the deceased had a will; and
    • A list of all estate property
    Additionally, § 202.005 requires the personal representative to provide an explanation if any of the above information was not included in the application. 

    Finally, the personal representative must provide notice to all heirs as well as anyone who holds a property interest in any estate asset. 

    Once the court receives the application, it will determine the decedent’s legal heirs. These are the individuals who are entitled to inherit the property of the estate. 

    Heirship proceedings may seem straightforward—and in some cases, they are—however, with so much at stake, it is imperative these matters are handled with the utmost care and diligence. At The Probate Law Group, our knowledgeable team of Houston probate lawyers has more than 30 years of experience helping heirs establish and enforce their inheritance rights. We command an in-depth understanding of the Texas intestacy laws as well as the procedures governing heirship proceedings, so you can rest assured that your interests are protected. To learn more and to schedule a no-obligation consultation, you can reach us at 713-574-6080 or through our online contact form.