Houston Probate Courts: Navigating Judges, the Clerk, and Courthouse Unknowns
We don’t blame you for not knowing a lot about these proceedings. If you need to delve into this area of law, you’ve likely experienced loss.
First, we offer our condolences. The last thing you want to think about is estates and finding the clerk responsible for all the forms you have to file. For the average person, probate is usually a certainty. This is whether or not you have an estate plan. In fact, Texas probate is even more likely when you haven’t made an estate plan. And when you still need to create an estate plan, the process is almost guaranteed to be far more arduous and drawn out.
You may never know which loved one will be in desperate need of a particular asset tied up in probate when it could have been placed in a trust. Are you in the Houston, TX, area? Don’t make your loved ones’ lives more complicated because you failed to plan. Contact a Texas probate attorney who can traverse the Houston probate courts. Without a Houston, TX, probate lawyer, you may find yourself like a headless chicken trying to navigate the process.
To help you get started, here are some basics.
What is Probate?
If you drafted a will before you passed away, you have likely appointed an executor. If you pass away without a will, a judge will designate someone to serve as an executor, and they will submit documents to the local probate court after your death. The executor shows the legality of your will and provides the court with details of your belongings, liabilities, and intended beneficiaries. After that, your family members and creditors receive a formal death notice.
What Does the Probate Court Do?
The property and obligations of a deceased individual are handled in probate court.
A probate court judge’s primary responsibilities include the following:
- Ensuring a will is carried out according to the testator’s desires
- Seeing to it that the testator’s debts and taxes are paid
- Ensuring that any remaining assets are given to the correct recipients
The Texas Court Structure
The Texas Constitution established county courts in each county, so you shouldn’t have to go far.
A single county may have a district court, statutory probate court, county court, or county court at law to hear probate cases. In fact, the county court of law and the constitutional court could have concurrent jurisdiction in probate cases.
A total of 19 probate courts exist in Texas, four of which are in Harris County, one of the state’s biggest counties. The Harris County probate courts have sole jurisdiction over all probate, guardianship cases, and mental health commitment issues within Harris County.
Harris County Probate Courts
201 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77002
Probate Resources in the Houston, TX Area
- Harris County online directory
- Harris County Clerk’s Office
- Real property document search
- Guardianship of the Person and Estate Handbook
You Need a Lawyer at the Helm to Navigate Houston Probate Courts
People turn to probate courts to fulfill the last wishes of someone who has passed away or to assist someone struggling with intellectual disability or incapacity, such as Alzheimer’s. A judge can also adjudicate in circumstances of wrongful death, serious injuries necessitating guardianship, and allegations of misconduct by executors, administrators, trustees, or guardians.
While the cause of a probate court may seem noble, we warn our clients to note that it can be just as contentious as any civil matter. Things could easily go awry after you have filed your forms. Large estates could be a stake, and you will want to give yourself the best chance at success if your probate matter becomes adversarial.
Highly Skilled Texas Probate Attorney
Save yourself the hassle. A Houston probate attorney can help with estate planning and managing a decedent’s estate after death. The Houston, TX, probate attorneys at the Titus Law Firm have years of knowledge in probate law. They can aid an executor or beneficiary in completing the probate process for the estate.
Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.