Claiming an inheritance in Texas
An inheritance can never compensate for the death of a family member. But inheritance is not about greed; it is about custody and control of your property.
Claiming an inheritance in Texas is usually straightforward if you are a named beneficiary in the will. The executor or administrator named in the will and appointed by the court gathers the property, pays the debts of the estate, and distributes the property to the beneficiaries. As a beneficiary, you do not normally need to do anything.
Problem – no will
Problems develop when there is no will, or you feel the will was unfair.
If there is no will, the court must determine who are the beneficiaries and what part of the estate they each own. Often, if you are not close to your relative who passed away, the local family will “forget” to tell the court that you are an heir. If you are illegitimate, the family may try to prevent you from receiving your inheritance. And, if you just discovered your relative through DNA, that brings up a new set of problems that you will need help with.
If there is an unfair will that has been offered for probate, you will need to contest that will.
Problem – Who are the heirs.
If there is no will or if there is a will that doesn’t dispose of all of the property, then the property goes to the decedent’s heirs. Who those heirs are and getting them their inheritance requires an attorney who handles inheritance disputes.
The local family may forget to mention an heir, they may try to keep a distant heir from receiving their property, and heirs found through DNA cause other problems. In all these cases, the heir needs to have an attorney helping them obtain custody and control of their property.
How long does a beneficiary have to claim their inheritance?
If there is no will, or the will doesn’t dispose of all of the property, then an heirship proceeding needs to be filed. There is no time limit to file an heirship proceeding unless the decedent died before January 14, 2014. In that case, you need to talk to an attorney who is familiar with heirships to see if you can still file for your heirship.
How to resolve inheritance disputes?
Many inheritance disputes can be settled. We try to settle a case if possible because of the uncertainty of jury trials. But, when a case can’t be settled, we are experienced trial attorneys with many years of experience.
The property you inherit is your property. You are not trying to get something from someone else. You just want custody and control of your property.