Frequently Asked Questions

Probate is a process. It takes time. There are a lot of steps along the way. We created this series of pages to help our clients with frequently asked questions or issues.

About the Probate Process

  1. Do I have to hire a probate attorney? The general rule is that you have to hire a probate attorney if you are representing anyone more than yourself. There are other parties to the probate typically, including other heirs. When that is the case, most courts will require that you hire a probate attorney.
  2. How long does the probate process take? A short time frame for probate is 3 to 6 months. They can go even longer than this.
  3. What is involved in a typical probate case? There are a number of steps, but they usually include an application, a court hearing, paying creditors and distributing property.
  4. What do I do if the bank demands letters testamentary? You may have options here. Letters testamentary may or may not be needed.
  5. Do I need to probate a will if I am the only beneficiary? You usually do need to probate a will, even if you are the only beneficiary. A will is not valid until it is admitted to probate.
  6. How long do I have to probate a will in Texas? You generally have four years to probate a will. But note that you have to deliver the will to the clerk before this time.
  7. Is probate public in Texas? Generally, yes. Records filed in the case are open to inspection by the public.
  8. Can I buy real estate tied up in probate? Yes, you can. We advise clients on how to acquire real estate that is in probate.
  9. How do I respond to a letter from a probate attorney? There are a number of reasons why probate attorneys send letters. Generally, the answer is that you should have your own probate attorney review and help you respond to the letter.

Getting Started

  1. Who do we represent? We typically represent the applicant. This the party who files the application for probate. When we are not representing the application, we may represent other interested parties.
  2. How much we charge. We charge flat fees, by the hour, and, in some limited cases, contingency fees.
  3. How much are the court costs and fees? They vary based on the case. In most cases they are $400 to $1,000.
  4. How we prefer to work. We prefer to handle communications using our online client portal and/or phone and email.
  5. What we need to get started. All we typically need to get started is a signed engagement letter, payment, and a completed intake form. The will and death certificate are helpful if they are available.
  6. Probate intake forms. This page provides our intake forms.

Okay, Started, Now What?

  1. Who is the attorney ad litem. The attorney ad litem is a third party attorney appointed by the court to investigate the application for heirship. They report back to the court.
  2. Directions to the Harris County probate courts. This page provides directions to the courts and describes the parking options.
  3. What to expect from the court hearings:
    1. About in-person probate hearings. This page provides an overview of what to expect with in-person probate hearings.
    2. About online probate hearings. This page provides an overview of what to expect with an online probate hearing.

Other Questions

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, you might try our Texas Probate Guide or contact us to ask about it.