Do I Need an Attorney to Probate a Will in Texas?

probatewillI get phone calls and emails each week from Texans who have lost friends and family members. Often, they have been named as independent executors and need information about probating a Will.

The first question they ask is whether it will be necessary to retain an attorney to go through the probate process. In most cases, the answer is: “Yes.”

Most courts in Texas require an executor to be represented by an attorney in a probate matter because an executor not only represents himself, but also the interests of beneficiaries and creditors. Since under Texas law, only a licensed attorney can represent the interests of others, preparing and filing pleadings in a probate matter without the assistance of counsel would constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

Texas courts cite limited circumstances when an executor can probate a Will without being represented by an attorney. For example, an executor may be able to probate a Will as a muniment of title without being represented by an attorney if the executor is also the sole beneficiary of the estate and there are no debts against the estate other than those secured by liens against real estate.

Additionally, in situations where the filing of an affidavit of heirship is appropriate, all the heirs of an estate may be able to work together to file the affidavit without an attorney’s involvement.

Below are links to the policies regarding pro-se applicants of just a few Texas courts:

Harris County

Dallas County

Denton County

Galveston County

Hood County

Travis County

Victoria County

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