• When a person dies without a Will in Texas they are said to have died INTESTATE.

  • In the case of a person who dies intestate the State of Texas determines who will inherit that person's property. 

  • Even if a person is entitled to inherit property of an Intestate Decedent under the laws of Descent and Distribution, they will need to initiate a Determination of Heirship proceeding in order to be declared an heir by the court and be eligible to receive clear title to the Intestate Decedent's property.

  • In the case of a person who dies without a will and whose non-exempt assets are worth 50,000 or less, it may be possible to file a Small Estates Affidavit instead of a Determination of Heirship.

Process for an Heirship Proceeding in Texas

  • An attorney representing an interested party to the estate of someone who has died intestate submits an Application to Determine Heirship to either a Statutory Probate or a County Court depending on the County where venue is proper.  The Application to Determine Heirship asks the court to determine who the Intestate decedent's heirs are according to the law.

  • If all of the Intestate Decedent's heirs at law agree, an application to appoint an Administrator to Administer the Estate can be submitted requesting Letters of Administration.  Letters of Administration allow a representative to settle the estate.

  • The Court will appoint an Attorney Ad Litem to determine the unknown heirs, this is a lawyer appointed by the court to make sure that no heirs are forgotten.  The appointment of an Attorney Ad Litem is required by law.

  • Two witnesses who cannot profit financially from the settlement of the estate (called disinterested witnesses) need to appear in open court to testify as to the family history of the Intestate Decedent.

  • The Court declares who are the heirs at law of the Intestate Decedent and Letters of Administration are granted.

  • This is a simplified overview of Intestacy in Texas and is not intended to cover all of the issues involved.  If you have a relative who has passed away  without a will and you need to begin the settlement of their estate:
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