Harris County Probate Court Home
Harris County Probate Court provide assistance to those who are facing difficult legal situations. Whether you are the executor of an estate or a person who has been falsely accused, this court can provide you with the legal guidance you need. In this article, we will introduce you to the Harris County Probate Courts and give you a snapshot of what they offer. We will also discuss some of the more common issues that probate court residents might face and how to best deal with them. Finally, we will provide some tips on how to find and work with a probate lawyer in Harris County.
What is Probate?
Probate courts are responsible for settling estates, distributing property, and issuing death certificates. Probate can be a complicated process, but it is important to know what happens if you die without a will.
If you die without a will, your estate is distributed according to your closest living relatives. If you have no relatives, your estate is divided equally among the people who were listed as beneficiaries on your bank or investment accounts. Your property is also distributed to these beneficiaries.
If you have a will, your estate goes through probate only if you don’t designate a successor in your will. If you do designate a successor, the probate court appoints someone to act as executor or administrator of your estate. The probate court also decides how much money each heir receives from the estate.
Types of Probate
The probate court is the judicial branch of government that administers estate and trust law in Harris County, Texas. Probate courts have jurisdiction over estates with a value of $100,000 or less, whereas estates worth more than $100,000 must be administratively handled through the district court system. There are three types of probate courts in Harris County: family, small claims, and civil.
The family probate court has jurisdiction over all estates with a value under $10 million. It is divided into two divisions, the maternal and paternal divisions. The maternal division handles estates of female spouses who die without leaving children behind and the paternal division handles estates of male spouses who die without leaving children behind. Both divisions have an attorney as well as a jury selection panel.
The small claims probate court has jurisdiction over all civil cases up to $25,000 in value. Cases are heard by one judge without an attorney present. Jury selection is done by mail rather than in person.
The civil probate court has jurisdiction over all civil cases up to $1 million in value. Cases are heard by one judge with an attorney present. Jury selection is done by mail rather than in person.
What to Expect When Appearing in Court as a Probate Petitioner
When you appear in court as a probate petitioner, you will likely be greeted by the court clerk. The clerk will ask for your identification, which she will check against the list of people who have been granted permission to appear in probate court. If you are not on this list, the clerk may ask to see your driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification. You will then be asked to fill out a petition form and hand it to the clerk. The clerk will give you an identification badge that allows you to enter the courtroom and take a seat inside the bar. Once in the courtroom, you may wait for your case to be called or for a judge to arrive.
What to Expect When Appearing in Court as a Party to the Proceeding
When someone appears in court as a party to the proceeding, they are required to comply with the court’s rules and procedures. This includes appearing in person, filing pleadings, and serving documents on other parties. Failure to comply may result in sanctions, such as a dismissal of the case or a judgment against the party.
How to Prepare for Your Appearance in Court
If you are scheduled to appear in court, here are some tips to help make your appearance as smooth as possible:
Arrive on time. Judges and attorneys start seeing delays when people show up late. If you have a hearing, arrive at least 10 minutes before it starts. If you are appearing for an initial appearance only, arrive no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled time.
Bring everything you need with you. This includes any documents that may be used in your case (such as an inventory of property or a petition), copies of those documents, and any photographs or other evidence that may be introduced at the hearing. Make sure to also bring any bills related to the case, such as attorney’s fees or court costs. Present all relevant information at the hearing so that there is no question about what is being sought by either side.
Be prepared to answer questions. If asked by the judge or the opposing party, make sure you know what is being asked and how to answer it. If there are no lawyers present, ask if you may address the court directly rather than answering questions from someone else outside of the courtroom.
Avoid making any sudden moves or expressions that could be taken as hostile or challenging by the other party. Remember that judges have a lot of work to do and they do not enjoy having important proceedings delayed.
What If You Can’t Attend Your Appearance in Court?
If you cannot attend your appearance in court, you may request a continuance. If the judge grants the continuance, you will be notified and given a new date for your appearance. And if you cannot attend your original appearance, you may request a new hearing.
Harris County Probate Courts is one of the many vital services that are provided by local government. When someone dies, their property and debts are passed along to their heirs according to state law. The probate courts process these cases and oversee the distribution of assets between the rightful heirs. If you have any type of legal issue or question that you would like answered, be sure to contact a lawyer or visit one of the Harris County Probate Court locations.