Affidavits of Heirship Lawyers in Bellaire, TX

When someone dies in Texas, their estate typically enters the probate process. This procedure ensures that the deceased’s property is distributed to the correct heirs and that any debts or taxes owed are settled. However, if the person passes away without a Will, things get complicated: the Probate Court must determine who their heirs are and appoint someone to oversee an intestate administration, which can be expensive.

Another option is to obtain an Affidavit of Heirship. This legal document, which is used when someone passes away without a Will and their only asset is real estate, helps to identify and confirm the rightful heirs to the estate. It serves as an essential alternative to the more extensive—and often more expensive—probate process.

When you’re faced with the task of settling a loved one’s estate, understanding how an Affidavit of Heirship can ease this transition is invaluable. Norris & Golubovic, PLLC has been serving clients in and around Bellaire, Texas, since 2014 and can provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need to successfully discharge your responsibilities.

Why Hire Us For Help With Your Affidavit of Heirship?

At Norris & Golubovic, PLLC, we understand how overwhelming it can be to deal with a loved one’s estate, especially if they never left a Will. Our team brings a wealth of experience in Texas probate law to the table, ensuring that your loved one’s estate is settled correctly and efficiently. Here are some of the advantages of working with us:

  • Our firm has years of experience in Texas probate law. We know how to obtain an Affidavit of Heirship and guide you through the successful transition of the deceased person’s property.
  • Handling the paperwork required for an Affidavit of Heirship can be difficult. Our team ensures that all documents are accurately completed and filed, saving you time and hassle.
  • We can help identify and coordinate with credible witnesses required for the affidavit, which is an essential step in validating the document.
  • Identifying and assessing the value of the deceased’s property is a critical step. Our strong background in estate matters enables us to accurately identify and value assets for the affidavit.
  • Should any disputes or challenges arise during the process, our firm is ready to provide strong legal representation to protect your rights and interests.

Our goal is to help you avoid the lengthy and costly probate process by obtaining an Affidavit of Heirship that supports a quicker distribution of the estate. Your matter will be handled with the utmost care and professionalism, allowing you to focus on what matters most during this difficult time.

Purpose of an Affidavit of Heirship

An Affidavit of Heirship serves three main purposes:

  • It streamlines the process of transferring real property (like houses and land) to the decedent’s heirs. When someone dies without a Will, determining who gets what can get complicated and time-consuming. An Affidavit of Heirship helps by clearly stating who the heirs are, making it easier to transfer property ownership.
  • It helps families avoid the long and often expensive probate process. Probate can take months, or even years, to conclude and can significantly reduce the estate’s value due to legal fees and other costs. By using an Affidavit of Heirship, families can bypass much of this, allowing for a quicker resolution and less financial strain on the estate.
  • It establishes legal heirship, which is critical in situations where there’s no Will to outline the deceased’s wishes. This clarity can help prevent disputes among family members and ensure that the property is distributed fairly and according to the law.

In essence, an Affidavit of Heirship offers a practical solution for managing and settling certain types of estates. It not only aids in the transition of assets to the next generation but also provides peace of mind by minimizing legal challenges and financial burdens.

Legal Framework in Texas

In Texas, the legal framework governing Affidavits of Heirship is outlined in the Texas Estates Code. This code provides the foundation for understanding how these affidavits work, under what conditions they can be used, and the responsibilities of the person who fills out the affidavit (known as the affiant).

Generally speaking, an Affidavit of Heirship is appropriate when these conditions are met:

  • The deceased died without a Will
  • Their only property was real estate 
  • There is no dispute as to who the heirs are

The Texas Estates Code outlines the requirements for creating a valid Affidavit of Heirship. Specifically:

  • It must contain the full legal name of the deceased and their date of death.
  • The document must detail the deceased’s family history, list all heirs and their relationship to the deceased, and describe the property involved. 
  • There needs to be a statement that the affiant is over 18 years old and has personal knowledge of the decedent’s family history.
  • The affiant must state that they have no knowledge of a valid Will or that the Will is invalid.
  • It must be signed by a notary public and then filed with the county where the property is located. This filing makes the affidavit a part of the public record, providing a legal basis for property transfer.

It’s important to note that if the deceased owned multiple properties, you don’t need separate affidavits for each one. A single Affidavit of Heirship can cover all the real estate owned by the deceased, provided the necessary information for each property is included.

How to File an Affidavit of Heirship in Texas

First, you’ll need to find three people who knew the deceased well, ideally for at least 10 years. While one of these witnesses can be an heir, the other two must have no financial stake in the estate. This rule is crucial because title companies, buyers, or mortgage companies may reject the affidavit if it seems like the witnesses might benefit from the estate. If you can’t find three people who meet these criteria, you may need to file a formal Application to Determine Heirship with the local probate court.

Once the affidavit is filled out, all three witnesses must sign it in front of a notary public. This step formally attests to the truthfulness and accuracy of the information provided in the document. The notary’s seal confirms that the witnesses understand their declarations and have made them without any coercion.

The final step is to file the completed and notarized Affidavit of Heirship with the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is located. This filing makes the affidavit a part of the public record, which is essential for the legal transfer of property ownership.

While the Affidavit of Heirship identifies the heirs to the property, it’s important to remember that it does not itself transfer anything. Instead, it establishes who is legally entitled to receive the property upon the deceased’s death. In most cases, no separate deed is necessary once the affidavit is filed.

Can You Use an Affidavit of Heirship Even if There Was a Will?

You might wonder if an Affidavit of Heirship is only for situations where someone dies without a Will. Interestingly, there are circumstances where this document can still be useful, even if the deceased didn’t die intestate.

If the Will explicitly leaves all real property solely to the deceased’s surviving spouse or direct descendants — like children or grandchildren — and no one else, an Affidavit of Heirship could be an alternative to the probate process. This scenario applies when the Will does not mention any other individuals or entities (like friends, charities, or organizations) as beneficiaries.

In these cases, using an Affidavit of Heirship can simplify things. It allows the property to be transferred to the heirs without the need to go through the formal probate process. This can be especially handy when the Will is straightforward and all parties agree on the distribution as laid out in the will.

You’ll want to approach this option carefully, though. All involved parties should be on the same page, and it’s a good idea to consult with a Texas probate lawyer to ensure this method fits your specific situation. Using an Affidavit of Heirship in this way can streamline the transfer of property to direct descendants, making it a useful tool even when there is a Will in place.

Questions About Affidavits of Heirship in Bellaire, Texas?

Whether your loved one died without a Will or you’re considering an Affidavit of Heirship even with a Will in place, the experienced Harris County probate lawyers at Norris & Golubovic, PLLC, are here to provide the support and guidance you need. We understand how challenging the legal aspects of estate management can be, which is why we’re offering a free initial 15-minute consultation. You can contact us at 713-597-7301 or schedule online. We look forward to hearing from you.