The loss of a loved one is difficult and will often leave family and friends with many questions about what to do next. In Texas, you have up to 4 years to probate an estate and have an executor or an administrator appointed. See this Checklist for things that the family can take care of to help protect themselves and their loved one’s estate while they begin the grieving process.

What is Probate?

Probate is the Texas court process wherein the estate of a decedent,the person who has died, is administered. Probate can take place when there is a Will and when there is no Will. Generally, the Texas probate process involves:

·       Filing an application with the appropriate court;

·       Having a hearing where an executor or administrator is appointed to manage the estate;

·       Giving the appropriate notice to beneficiaries and creditors;

·       Identifying and collecting the decedent’s assets;

·       Preparing an inventory of estate assets and filing it with the court;

·       Liquidating liabilities;

·       Paying necessary taxes; and

·       Distributing property to beneficiaries.

These activities are carried out by the executor or administrator of the estate, usually under the supervision of the probate court or other court of appropriate jurisdiction and, in most cases, with the guidance of a probate lawyer.

Will I Have to go Through Probate?

Not every estate will need to go through probate. An estate might need to go forward with a probate process when there are assets, such as real estate and bank accounts, that need to be transferred to beneficiaries, when there is debt that needs to be settled, and/or there is business that needs to be finalized. There are several types of probate Texas. Each type of probate has different pros and cons and not every estate will qualify for each type of probate. It is important to get advice from an attorney who has experience with probate and help you navigate through the seemingly complicated waters.

Types of Probate in Texas

Independent Administration

Independent administration in Texas is where an executor or an administrator is appointed to administrate the estate. This probate type is free of court control, for the most part.

Dependent Administration

Dependent administration in Texas is where an executor or an administrator is appointed to administrate the estate. This type of probate is largely controlled by the court and the court will require approval for most of the executor or administrator's actions.


Heirship is the process where the court will judicially determine the decedent's heirs at law. This process can be used for decedents who died without a will, decedents who died with a will that did not deal with all the decedent's property, and decedents who have been dead for more than 4 years.

Muniment of Title

Muniment of title is a type of probate where an executor is not appointed and there is no administration of the estate. This type of probate is only available to estates that have a will, 4 years have not passed since the decedent's death, and there are not debts that are not secured.

Small Estate Affidavit

Small estate affidavits are used for estates where the estate owns property that is valued at less than $75,000.00 and the decedent did not have a will or it has been more than 4 years after the decedent's death.