Unlike many states on the Pacific and Atlantic costs, Texas’ probate process is quicker and comparatively cost efficient.  In fact, Texas offers a several abbreviated probate process (e.g. independent administration, muniment of title, small estate affidavits) that require only limited filings and usually a single brief hearing in order to transfer the property to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs.

Despite the efficiency of its process, Texas does not offer a “do it yourself” probate.  An individual looking to probate an estate must use a licensed attorney “because in this role [the applicant] is litigating rights in a representative capacity rather than on his [or her] own behalf.”[1]  In Texas, as with other states, only a licensed attorney may represent someone else in court.  Therefore, an attorney is required in all probate proceedings because the person applying to open the decedent’s estate is not actually representing themselves.  Instead, the applicant is representing the estate of the person that died and the applicant’s actions can impact the rights of others (e.g. other heirs or creditors).

In short, this requirement is intended to offer each heir and creditor a fair opportunity to claim their interest in each estate probated.  It also offers executors with professional assistance in their role since they are have a duty to operate as a fiduciary.

Since the court will require you to obtain counsel it is best to meet with counsel before taking any action with the court.  There are a number of different options that may fit your circumstance and it is important to start the process with good advice from knowledgeable counsel to avoid wasting time, money, and effort.


[1] Steele v. McDonald, 202 S.W.3d 926 (Tex. App. — Waco 2006).