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Does the Size of an Estate Affect Its Movement Through Probate in Houston Courts?

— April 17, 2023

When a will is not disputed and the terms of settlement are straightforward, the probate action can take around six months to a year.

Probate matters are not always difficult, but they may move along more expediently with the assistance of experienced lawyers.  When a person dies with an established will, the will must be filed in court with an application to admit it to probate and identify the executor of the estate.  A notice will be posted by the court to inform interested parties about the status of the will.  A notice must remain posted for at least 10 days to give those who want to contest the will time to do it.  The court will move forward if no one contests the will.  Texas wills can be contested up to two years after a will is admitted for probate.  

Small estates less than $75,000

A Texas court may determine that the last will and testament is valid and the deceased person’s assets fall below the small estate threshold of $75,000.  Individuals should consult with Houston estate planning lawyers regarding smaller estates valued at $75,000 or less that do not have to go through the probate process and heirs can file a Small Estate Affidavit.  There are also types of property and assets that are jointly held that are not subject to probate actions such as life insurance, retirement benefits, IRAs, property held in trust, and jointly held real estate property with transfer on death deeds.  These assets pass directly to a beneficiary without the  need of estate administration.  Estates with real property valued at less than $75,000 are deemed “small estates” and pass-through probate court quickly when the executor is efficient and understands the prescribed duties that are like those that someone overseeing larger estates would handle.  Texas estate planning lawyers are efficient at filing of the proper paperwork and adhering to the court’s scheduled timeline of necessary events to close out a probate action.  

Time to complete probate

An hour glass, less than half full up top, marks the loss of time.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When a will is not disputed and the terms of settlement are straightforward, the probate action can take around six months to a year. Complex estates or contested actions may take longer and the inability to locate a decedent’s will may extend the time to completion. The time limit to initiate probate action is within four years of a death, and after the process begins, there is no deadline for an estate matter to be completed in Texas.  If an estate is not completed within 15 months, the executor or administrator can be ordered to provide an accounting of all estate assets, debts, and expenses. The executor then has 60 days to provide the accounting. If they don’t, the court can force the executor to provide the accounting.

Seek legal counsel

Executors of a last will and testament of a small estate should make an appointment with a Texas tax lawyer and an estate planning lawyer to guide them through necessary actions especially when it is a small estate where they can streamline actions


  1. ESTATESCODE.pdf (

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