Venue of Texas Probate Proceedings

Before you can start a probate proceeding in Texas, you need to know the appropriate county to file in, otherwise known as the proper venue.  The appropriate venue of a Texas probate proceeding will depend on the circumstances of the decedent and what kind of proceeding is being initiated.

Texas Venue For A Probate Proceeding To Admit A Will To Probate Or For Granting Of Letters

The venue for a probate proceeding to admit a will to probate or for the granting of letters testamentary or of administration in Texas is governed by section 33.001 of the Texas Estates Code and is as follows:

If the decedent had a domicile or fixed place of residence in Texas

In the county in which the decedent resided

If decedent did not have a domicile or fixed place of residence in Texas but died in Texas

In the county in which the decedent’s principal estate was located at the time of decedent’s death or the county where decedent died

If decedent did not have a domicile or fixed place of residence in Texas and died outside of Texas

In any county in Texas in which decedent’s nearest of kin reside OR if there is no next of kin of the decedent in Texas, in the county in which decedent’s principal estate was located at the time of the decedent’s death

For purposes of section 33.001, next of kin is a) the surviving spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, other relatives of the decedent within the third degree by consanguinity; and b) includes a person who legal adopted the decedent or has been legally adopted by the decedent and that person’s descendants.

Decedent’s nearest of kin is determined in accordance with order of descent, with the decedent’s next of kin who is nearest in order of descent first, and so on.

Venue for Texas Heirship Proceedings

Pursuant to section 33.004 of the Texas Estates Code, venue for Texas heirship proceedings is as follows:

  • The court of the county in which a proceeding admitting the decedent’s will to probate or administering the decedent’s estate was most recently pending; or
  • The court of the county in which venue would be proper for commencement of an administration of the decedent’s estate under section 33.001 if:
  • >>>no will of the decedent has been admitted to probate in Texas and no administration of the decedent’s estate has been granted in Texas; or
  • >>>the proceeding is commenced by the trustee of a trust holding assets for the benefit of the decedent.
 

What Is The Proper Venue For Determining The Heirs of A Deceased Ward In Texas?

If there is no administration pending of the estate of a deceased ward who died intestate, venue for a proceeding to determine the deceased ward’s heirs is in the probate court in which the guardianship proceedings with respect to the ward’s estate were pending on the date of the ward’s death.

The proceeding to determine the deceased ward’s heirs may not be brought as part of the guardianship proceedings with respect to the ward’s estate, but rather must be filed as a separate cause in which the court may determine the heirs’ respective shares and interests in the estate as provided by the laws of this state.

What Happens If Applications For Probate Are Filed In Two Or More Courts Having Concurrent Venue?

In some cases there may be more than one Texas county that can serve as the proper venue for a decedent’s probate proceedings.  If so, the first filed proceeding retains jurisdiction of the probate proceeding.  Section 33.052(a) of the Texas Estates Code states:

If applications for probate proceedings involving the same estate are filed in two or more courts having concurrent venue, the court in which a proceeding involving the estate was first commenced has and retains jurisdiction of the proceeding to the exclusion of the other court or courts in which a proceeding involving the same estate was commenced.

If probate proceedings involving the same estate are commenced in more than one county, each proceeding commenced in a county other than the county in which a proceeding was first commenced is stayed until the court in which the proceeding was first commenced makes a final determination of venue. Texas Estates Code section 33.053.

Can A Probate Proceeding Be Transferred To Another Texas County?

Yes, if probate proceedings involving the same estate are commenced in more than one county, and the court making the venue determination determines that venue is proper in another county, then the file is transferred to the court in the county in which venue is proper.

If it appears that venue is improper, any interested person can petition to transfer the probate proceeding to the Texas county having appropriate venue.

A Texas probate court can also transfer a probate proceeding to another county for convenience if the transfer would be in the best interest of the estate or the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries under the decedent’s will.