Determination of Heirship Attorney in Dallas, Texas
When a loved one dies without a will or leaves behind assets not covered in their Last Will and Testament, their surviving family members may be required to go through a complex and time-consuming process of heirship determination. With the support of an experienced attorney, the process can be made as efficient and painless as possible.
At the Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher, I have the expertise necessary to help families navigate this complicated and uncertain process and ensure that they enjoy a smooth and timely closing experience. As an estate planning and probate attorney in Dallas, Texas, I provide comprehensive guidance in heirship proceedings throughout Dallas County, Ellis County, Collin County, and Tarrant County.
What Is “Determination of Heirship?”
Determination of heirship is a legal proceeding in which the probate court determines who the deceased person’s heirs are and who is entitled to what when it comes to distributing the decedent’s property. The proceeding may be necessary when the decedent did not leave behind a Last Will and Testament or when certain assets have been left out of the will (e.g., acquiring assets after the will was written).
An application to determine heirship can be initiated by any of the following parties:
The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
The estate’s creditors.
Individuals claiming to be entitled to inherit some or all of the estate.
Individuals seeking the appointment of an independent administrator.
Texas law requires individuals applying for a determination of heirship to be represented by a licensed attorney. If you need assistance with filing an application to determine heirship after someone in your family dies, reach out to the Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher. I can help you prepare and file the necessary paperwork and will represent you during the legal proceedings.
What Happens at a Determination of Heirship Proceeding?
Before the court begins to determine who the heirs of the deceased person’s estate are, it will first consider the following:
Which of the decedent’s property is separate and which is community?
Was the deceased person married at the time of death?
Did the deceased person leave behind children?
If the deceased has children, are any of those children from a previous relationship or marriage?
After an application to determine heirship has been filed, all heirs must be given notice. If the heir is below the age of 12, the notice must be given to their parent, guardian, or managing conservator. If the names and/or locations of some heirs are unknown, the court will appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of those heirs.
Texas law also requires that the heirship determination proceeding is witnessed by at least two disinterested witnesses. In other words, there must be two individuals with no financial interest in the decedent’s estate present during the proceedings. Once the court determines who the heirs are, it will determine what their respective shares are. If there is property to be distributed to the decedent’s heirs, an application to appoint the estate’s administrator must be filed to proceed with the distribution process.
Intestate Succession Laws in Texas
If the deceased person did not write a Last Will and Testament in their lifetime, how the assets in their estate are distributed will be governed by the intestate succession laws in Texas. These laws use a statutory formula to determine who inherits what based on their relationship to the decedent.
If the deceased person leaves behind:
A surviving spouse but no children and parents, the spouse will receive the entire estate;
A spouse and their mutual children, the spouse will receive all of the community property (anything owned jointly by the spouses), a third of the personal property, and the right to their real estate, while the children inherit the remaining portion of their parent’s personal property;
A spouse and children from a previous relationship or marriage, the spouse will receive half of the community property, a third of the personal property, and the right to their real estate. The children will inherit the other half of the community property and the remaining portion of the personal property;
A spouse and parents, the spouse will receive 100% of the community and personal property as well as half of any real estate owned by the decedent independently, while the surviving parents inherit the rest of the independently-owned real estate;
A spouse and siblings, the spouse will receive 100% of the community and personal property as well as half of any real estate owned by the decedent independently, while the surviving siblings inherit the rest of the independently-owned real estate;
Children but no spouse, the children will receive the entire estate in equal shares;
Parents but no spouse or children, the parents will receive the entire estate; and
Siblings but no parents, spouse, or children, the siblings will receive the entire estate in equal shares.
Grandchildren may also be entitled to a portion of their deceased grandparent’s estate if their parents are deceased but would have otherwise been set to inherit as heirs.
Determination of Heirship Attorney in Dallas, Texas
If the circumstances of your loved one’s death necessitate heirship determination, you likely have many questions. At the Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher, I know how incredibly painful losing a loved one is. As a determination of heirship attorney, I can provide you with answers to your questions and help you navigate this emotional time and the legal challenges you and your family have to face. Contact my office today to set up a consultation.