Your Trusted Houston TX Probate Attorney

Property Transfer After Death


Carrying the burden of suffering from the loss of a loved one and a financial loss is an unfortunate event that, in many cases, cannot be avoided. Since Estate and probate issues can be stressful for you and your family, the probate lawyer at the Law Firm of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, can help!

We will perform all of the legal duties involved in the probate of your loved one’s Will and trusts, and handling the probate real estate transfer so you appreciate the needed legal representation in court to reach your legal goals. This provides you the peace of mind you seek and deserve.

Our lawyer in Tomball, Cypress and Houston, Texas area is known for efficient and straightforward procedures. Probate in Texas is not cumbersome and can be completed within a month or two. To “probate” means the legal process where a court, with the Executor or Administrator, identifies the proper successor beneficiaries. Probate is a legal process in which assets after death, including property and estate of the deceased, will be legally transferred to the determined beneficiaries.

The rightful heirs or beneficiaries can include family, relatives, friends, and other loved ones. If there is a Last Will for the probate process, you should have the original Will to address its validation, authenticity, and identification of the property. And most importantly, seek out a probate lawyer that has been there and done that. Probate is also necessary when the deceased family member does not leave a Will. The property does not pass to the State, but you do need the assistance of a Texas probate lawyer.

Real estate investors often look to scoop up probate property for cheap.  States require proper real estate transfer of the estate property prior to a closing being allowed, so in most cases, if there is real estate, probate is required, and therefore it is impossible to avoid probate.  Life insurance can help cover any estate tax from the distribution of assets, but usually you do not see estate tax anymore with the high exemption amount for estates.  Debts owed by the estate can be satisfied at closing of the real estate transfer.

Speak with Houston’s #1 Probate Attorney today. For more information on navigating probate matters and questions about estate planning and probate litigation, schedule a free phone consult to see what issues you face with your loved one’s estate, and how our Houston probate lawyer can get you where you need to be.  We represent clients in Texas throughout the Northwest Houston, Spring, Magnolia, Tomball and Cypress areas. Call the above phone number or Contact Us.

If you don’t have time to call and need more information, please see our Texas Probate Process Summary page by clicking here.  You will find it very informative.

The starting point for any probate attorney case is whether or not there was a Will for the Decedent.  See below for the analysis on probate options depending on whether or not there was a Last Will & Testament at the time of death.

Was there a Will or Not?  Yes Or No?

If the answer if ‘Yes,’ then you have two very good options, which are 1) probate the Will in probate Court, or 3) probate the Will in Court as a Muniment of Title only.

               Answer: Yes


  1.      Probate of Will in Court: this is the traditional method for probating a Will.  The Will is filed with an Application to Probate the Will, and the Court appoints an Executor.  The Executor is in charge of the Estate, as well as distributing the assets to the beneficiaries and filing an accounting with the Court for the Judge to sign.
  2.      Probate of Will as a Muniment of Title:  this is a less desirable way to probate a Will, but this procedure is most useful when dealing with a Will that needs to be probated more than four years after the Decedent passed away.  Click the link in the title for more info.


               Answer: No


If the Decedent did not have a Will, you have various options depending on the circumstances.


  1.      Judicial Determination of Heirship: this is the formal legal process for establishing who has inheritance rights from a person who dies without a Will.  This will transfer title to real estate and personal property.
  2.      Judicial Determination of Heirship with Administration: this is the formal legal process for establishing 1) who has inheritance rights from the Deceased, and 2) who is in charge of the Estate as the Administrator.  This is the best way to probate an estate.
  3.      Small Estate Affidavit: you can use this if there is no Will and the Decedent only had less than $75,000 in assets, excluding the house.  See our page for more explanation and limitations.
  4.      Alternatives to Probate: there are several alternatives to probate that are available, depending on your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is probate court?

In Texas, a Last Will & Testament is not self-enacting.  It has to be probated in Court for it to be declared to be the deceased’s Last Will & Testament.  The act of probating a Will effectively transfers title to real estate, bank accounts, and anything else that has title or financial value.  This is the law in Texas, and including Northwest Houston, Cypress, Tomball, and Spring areas.

How much does probate cost?

In most cases, your Houston, Texas attorney can have the court appoint an executor, conduct the probate and estate administration, and oversee the entire probate law process for a flat fee.  The flat fee for a Houston lawyer is usually unique and based on a case by case evaluation that depends on what the estate attorney sees as problems in the Will that can affect the legal process.   

Can I do probate myself?

This area of law involves some outdated terms that are foreign to many people.  Even attorneys that do not practice probate law are not familiar how to tackle probate and estate administration.  While it is legally possible to do your own executor appointed probate and estate administration of your loved one, it is worth the extra cost of a probate lawyer.    

How long does probate and estate administration take in Houston, Texas?

Probate, in some instances, can be expedited in order to meet an emergency situation.  Depending on the form of probate and estate administration that fits the case, it is feasible to have it done in less than a month.  Every case is different, so be sure to inform your  lawyer when you get a chance to speak.  

What is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit can be used in limited circumstances to transfer real property, bank accounts, and other assets of the deceased if the Estate is worth less than $75,000, exclusive of the house.  Talk to your local probate and estate administration attorney in Cypress & Tomball, Texas for more information on whether your loved-one’s estate qualifies for this method in the probate court.  


What is a judicial heirship?

Heirships are used when there is no Will that identifies the beneficiaries of the person’s estate for estate administration. Heirs of someone’s Estate are those that inherit property under Texas law.  There is a set scheme for who inherits what and in what percentages after someone dies without a Will.    


What are Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration?

In connection with practicing law in probate court, your attorney will have you appointed as the Executor (if there is a Will).  If there is no Will, or you were not the named Executor in the Will, then the Court will appoint you as the Administrator. They are essentially synonyms for the same thing — that being who is in charge of the probate and estate administration.  The umbrella term for both Executor and Administrator is the “Personal Representative” of the Estate. The Personal Representative has broad authority to carry out all business of the Estate, including real property transfers and access to financial accounts.


What is an Independent Administration in probate court?

An Independent Administration is the preferred method for administration of an estate in probate court under Texas law.  Your Northwest Houston probate attorney will do his/her best to have you appointed as the Independent Executor or Independent Administrator.  An Independent Administration is far less expensive than a Dependent Administration in probate court under Texas and Houston law.  


What is a Dependent Administration in probate court?

A Dependent Administration is a lesser form of probate and estate administration in probate court, when compared with the Independent Administration.  Sometimes, it is required to be a dependent administration if the deceased died without a Will and have minor beneficiaries. It can also be required if there are minor problems with the Will and not everyone agrees on who should be the Independent Personal Representative for the Estate.  Talk to your local probate lawyer available to you in Northwest, Houston, Cypress, Tomball and Spring for assistance on the best way to not end up having a Dependent Administration.  


What is a decedent?

A Decedent is simply the deceased person who is of concern for the relevant matter.  In the instance of a probate court administration of someone’s estate, the person who has passed away is the Decedent.  


If I am married, doesn’t the house automatically transfer to me when my husband/wife dies under Texas law?

Any law firm or law office practicing law in the probate area can tell you that, under Houston, Texas law, and throughout Cypress, Tomball, Magnolia, and Spring, it is all the same.  In Texas, unlike some other states, the marital homestead property does not automatically pass to the surviving spouse, even if the homestead is community property. The surviving spouse still needs to do probate in order to clear up the break in the chain of title that occurs when someone dies who own real estate in Texas.  A flat fee Houston probate lawyer can assist you with the transfer of the property to your own name, and therefore allow you to refinance, downsize, or sell your house if you so choose.  


What is a break in the chain of title under probate law?

Chain of title refers to what title companies look at in order to make a determination of whether or not the seller of the real property actually has “clear title.”  When someone dies in Texas, that is a break in the chain of title under Texas probate law, and you need to have some form of probate and/or estate administration with your local Tomball and Cypress, TX probate attorney.


Do probate lawyers offer free consults?

Not all probate lawyers in Northwest Houston, Cypress, and Tomball, Texas will see you free of charge.  However, at the Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC we offer free 30-minute consults to all prospective probate clients.  During the consult, your unique situation will be evaluated by a local Cypress & Tomball, TX probate lawyer, and you will get an answer on whether or not the Will is valid or not.  Call or fill out the contact us form to begin the process of getting your questions answered.