Do I Have to Hire a Probate Attorney?
The short answer is, probably yes.
If you have to administer a probate estate in Texas, then you will need to hire a probate attorney. There are several reasons for this.
The Probate Courts Do Provide Legal Advice
The primary reason is that the Texas probate system is set up this way.
The Texas probate courts do not have staff whose function is to help the public. Texas has made the decision that tax revenues should not be spent to provide this service.
Those who need to have an estate probated in Texas have to cover their own costs. They do this by hiring and paying a probate attorney.
Texas Probate Law is Complex
The complexity of Texas’ probate laws also warrants hiring a probate attorney.
Texas has a well-developed body of probate law. This is in part due to our large population. The larger the population, the more disputes. The more disputes, the more developed the law.
One only has to look to the less populated states to see how this works. In the absence of well-developed bodies of law, the courts in many of the less populated states actually reference the law of other states. It is common for these other state courts to even cite Texas law.
In fact, with probate law, many of these less populated states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code (“UPC”). This allows them to simply adopt a set of probate laws written by law school professors, without having to create their own set of laws. Texas is not a UPC state.
But please note, you may not always have to do a probate. Absent a probate, you might not have to hire a probate attorney.
There are several alternatives to probate that can sometimes be handled without hiring a probate attorney (here is a link to an article about probate alternatives). If one of these alternatives works for you, then you may find that you can wrap up the decedent’s affairs without hiring a probate attorney or hiring the attorney on a limited scope basis.