Probate Without a Will
Determination of Heirship
What happens when a person dies without a will?
If a person dies without a Will, the law determines the disposition of his or her property. Texas law governing the intestate distribution of property is to provide for the orderly distribution of property at death. The distribution is determined by how closely the heir was related to the Decedent. Dying without a Will may trigger undesired results, as well as unexpected costs and delays.
If there is no will, or if there are issues with the decedent's will, the decedent's heirs must be determined and the decedent's estate can still be administered or distributed.
A judicial declaration identifying the heirs of the Decedent is a proceeding where the heirs of a decedent dying intestate (without a will) are determined by the court. Court makes a formal declaration as to the identity of the Decedent's heirs, each heir's share in the estate. The Court's judgment allows the estate to be divided and distributed among the heirs.
The Court is required to appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the unknown heirs, and that attorney will report his or her findings to the Court at the determination of heirship hearing. The Court also requires two disinterested witnesses to testify as to the Decedent's family history.
Once the heirship proceeding is complete, the Court can open an estate.