When a loved one dies without a will, distributing their estate can add even more hardship to a grieving family. In most cases, the decedent’s estate will go through a probate process involving lengthy delays and court oversight.
Fortunately, there are some methods heirs can use to receive the decedent’s property without going through probate. A Texas affidavit of heirship is one such method.
What Is an Affidavit of Heirship?
When a person dies, generally their heirs can not sell or transfer the decedent’s property until the title is updated. Usually, the probate process is the legal means of transferring property to heirs and beneficiaries.
However, an affidavit of heirship is a legal document that can transfer ownership of real property from a decedent to heirs without the property going through probate. Probate costs money, so these documents can be a less costly way for heirs to transfer real property.
An affidavit of heirship can also be helpful when four years have passed since the decedent’s death and probate is no longer an option.
Who Can Fill Out an Affidavit of Heirship?
The Texas affidavit of heirship form must be filled out and filed on behalf of a decedent’s heir and can not be completed by the heir.
Instead, two disinterested parties who know the necessary details about a decedent’s family life need to fill out the form.
The individuals who complete the affidavit can not receive any financial benefit for completing the form. Also, a licensed and registered notary public must sign the affidavit.
How Much Does It Cost to File an Affidavit of Heirship in Texas?
Each county in Texas has a different filing fee, but the cost of filing an affidavit of heirship runs from $50 to $75. You will likely also need to pay a notary public to witness the document signing.
Where to File an Affidavit of Heirship
An affidavit of heirship should be filed in the county where the decedent owned the property in question. Contact the county clerk in the relevant county for more information on filing fees and how to file the affidavit.
Pros and Cons of Using an Affidavit of Heirship in Texas
The most significant advantage of filing an affidavit of heirship is that using one can be much cheaper than going through a full probate process. These documents can also help heirs transfer property after probate is no longer an option.
There are several major disadvantages to using an affidavit of heirship:
- An affidavit of heirship only creates a presumption concerning property ownership and is easy to contest. Creditors can also challenge these documents.
- Some banks and title companies will not recognize an affidavit of heirship.
- There are often other methods of transferring the property of a decedent’s estate that can be more beneficial.
Your lawyer can help you assess whether using this tool is in your best interests.
Contact Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law Today!
Ultimately, an affidavit of heirship is a tool that is only useful under particular circumstances. At Massingill, our Austin estate planning lawyers can help you determine the best way to handle a decedent’s estate as an heir.
We offer straightforward flat-fee services and have the experience to skillfully and efficiently manage your estate law needs. Contact us today and schedule a consultation.