Most probate court hearings are quick and relatively straightforward.
The courts typically hear several cases during one docket. The term “docket” refers to the list of cases that will be heard by the court during the set period of time.
With probate cases, it is common for the court to hear 5 to 10 cases during one docket. It is also common for the court to group different types of probate cases and hear them on one docket. For example, the court may have a testate (with will) docket and a intestate (no will) docket.
The term “docket” is also used to describe the roster or list of cases. The courts typically prepare a docket and work their way down the list during the court session.
If your case is last on the docket, chances are good that you will have to wait and listen to the other cases before the court gets to your case. This provides you with an opportunity to see how the court works and will help you prepare for your hearing.
Once your case is called by the court, the process starts with your attorney announcing to the court that they are present and who they represent. If there are other attorneys or parties present, they are expected to do the same.
The court will then ask to swear in any witnesses. The witnesses will then take an oath to tell the truth.
The court will usually then turn the proceeding over to the attorney for the party who filed the application, motion, or who asked for the court hearing.
The applicant’s attorney will usually start by calling a witness. With probate cases, the first witness is either the applicant or another witness who can testify as to the family circumstances, the will, etc.
In advance of the court hearing, we can provide a list of the questions we will ask if that helps. We typically provide this to our clients the day before the hearing and we have a phone call to go through the questions in advance of the court hearing. So please set up a date and time to do this with us just before the court date.
Harris County Probate Court # 1 has provided the following video to explain what is needed to participate in online hearings and what to expect.
Please note that we expect you to download the Zoom application as noted in the video. If you have any questions about this, please let us know and we can show you how to download and use the application.