Do I Need a Lawyer to Probate a Will in Texas?
I get phone calls and emails each week from Texans who have lost friends and family members. Often, the decedent’s Will appoints them as independent executors and they need information about probating a Will.
One of the first questions they ask is whether it will be necessary to hire a lawyer to go through probate. In most cases, the answer is: “Yes.”
Most courts in Texas require an executor to hire a lawyer in a probate matter. This is 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, according to caselaw, constitute the unauthorized practice of law.
Texas courts cite limited circumstances when an executor can probate a Will without hiring an attorney. For example, an executor may not need to hire a lawyer to probate a Will as a muniment of title 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:
This article was initially published on December 17, 2014 and updated on May 16, 2022.