At times, navigating probate is a relatively straightforward process. Other times, though, the process can be messy – especially when it is unclear who an individual’s heirs are and who should receive the individual’s property. In today’s blog post, we discuss one way to navigate this issue – namely, by filing an application to determine heirship.
Importantly, an application to determine heirship always involves the probate court, and it always involves a hearing before the court. The purpose of the hearing is to determine who, exactly, should receive a decedent’s property. The hearing can take place either when a decedent’s estate has not been administered (as long as there is some property in Texas) or when property in Texas was left out of a decedent’s will.
What Happens During the Hearing?
When this kind of hearing takes place, the court begins by figuring out if the property at issue is separate property, meaning the decedent was the sole owner, or community property, meaning there were others involved. Once it has made this determination, the court looks at the Texas Estates Code to determine who should inherit the property.
At least two witnesses must appear at the hearing, and the witnesses must be individuals without any vested interest in the decedent’s property. The court will issue a ruling, and the designated beneficiaries can then receive the property that is at issue.
Other Reminders About Applications to Determine Heirship
Any person filing this kind of application must be represented by an attorney; the court will not accept the application if it is filed without the help of a legal representative. In addition, all of the decedent’s heirs, known and unknown, must be part of the proceedings. If someone is left out, the court could end up rejecting the application altogether.
Lastly, only certain people are apple to file an application to determine heirship. These people include: the estate’s representative, any creditors with an interest in the estate, any person claiming to be a beneficiary, and any party asking to be appointed as an administrator of the estate.
Overall, applications to determine heirship can be deceivingly tricky, and it is important to trust the estate planning attorney that you retain to help you with your application. If you have questions about whether this process applies to you, the best thing you can do is speak with an estate planning or probate attorney that is licensed and reputable in Texas.
Are You in Need of an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, we provide the Houston community with comprehensive legal services regarding probate and estate planning. Our team has decades of experience navigating the most complicated of processes, and we are standing by, eager to hear from you and learn about your individualized circumstances. For a consultation with a member of our team, give us a call today at (713) 903-7879. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your circumstances and have an attorney reach back out to you.