Justia Lawyer Rating
State Bar of Texas
American Bar Association

Determination of Heirship

San Antonio Attorney Representing People in Estate and Probate Matters

People often avoid contemplating their eventual demise and put off drafting their wills, believing that only sick or old people need them. Unfortunately, the failure to engage in effective estate planning causes many people to pass away before they have legally established their final wishes. When someone dies without leaving a will, it is often necessary to conduct a determination of heirship, to define their rightful heirs and how their estate should be divided. If you have questions regarding your rights with regard to the estate of a recently departed loved one, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. At Parra Law Firm our seasoned San Antonio estate planning attorneys have ample experience handling determination of heirship proceedings, and if you engage our services, we will fight to help you protect your interests.

Grounds for Determination of Heirship Proceedings

Pursuant to Texas law, a court can conduct a proceeding to determine who a deceased person’s heirs are and award the heirs their respective interests and shares in the deceased person’s assets, according to Texas law. Proceedings to determine heirship are only authorized under certain circumstances. Generally, they are conducted when a person who owns or is owed property in Texas dies without a will and their estate has not been administered. Determination of heirship proceedings can also be conducted if a deceased person’s will has been probated in Texas or another state, but property within the state was left out of the will or administration, there has not been a final disposition of the property in the administration, or the trustee of a trust holding assets for the benefit of the deceased person needs to determine their heirs.

The Process of Obtaining Determination of Heirship

A party may bring a proceeding to declare heirship of a deceased person any time after their death. Texas law only authorizes certain parties to bring such proceedings, however. Specifically, they must be commenced by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, a creditor or owner of all or part of the state, a person seeking the appointment of an independent administrator, or the trustee of a trust that holds assets for the deceased person’s benefit. If the deceased person was a ward who had been appointed a guardian of the estate, the guardian can also bring a proceeding to determine heirship.

To begin a proceeding to determine heirship, an authorized individual must file an application in a court in the appropriate county. The application has to include certain information as defined by statutory law, including the deceased person’s name and date and place of death, the names and addresses of each of their heirs, and the nature of the heirs’ relationship to the deceased person. It must also include the names of their children and spouses and a general description of the deceased person’s property.

After the application is filed, the court will assign an independent attorney to conduct an investigation to find any unidentified heirs. The applicant must also place an ad in a local newspaper notifying any potential heirs of the proceeding. Once the independent attorney’s investigation is complete, the court will conduct a hearing during which it will hear testimony from witnesses about the deceased person’s relationships. The judge will then issue an order defining the deceased person’s heirs. The order may also appoint an administrator to distribute the estate’s assets.

Consult a Dedicated San Antonio Attorney About Your Options

When a person dies without a will, it is smart for anyone that may benefit from their estate to seek a judicial determination of heirship. If you need assistance with an estate issue, it is prudent to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The San Antonio attorneys of Parra Law Firm are dedicated to helping people navigate the complexities of the Texas probate courts, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our office is conveniently located in San Antonio, and we regularly represents parties in estate matters in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. You can reach us at (210) 332-5454 or through the online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting to discuss your rights.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
"Rosendo Parra helped me finish a long-time case I’ve been trying to wrap up for years. He was completely understanding, professional and worked very diligently to the end and I’m so grateful! Highly recommend” Jason S.
★★★★★
"Hands down the best law firm out there. They stuck through a very difficult divorce and child custody case with me. I had battled for years. I would recommend anyone of the attorney's in this firm. They look out for your best interests and have your back the entire time. Thank you again Parra Law for absolutely everything" Susan D.