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How Does the Texas Probate Court Work?

Texas Probate Courts are county-level trial courts of record in the Texas judicial system that generally have original jurisdiction over probate, guardianship, and mental health matters. Probate Courts are typically found in populated Texas counties. In the counties where they are located, Texas Probate Courts have original jurisdiction over the following types of cases:

  • Matters involving wills and name changes
  • Matters involving the administration of estates
  • Mental health proceedings
  • Matters involving trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships

In some of these cases, the Probate Courts may share jurisdiction with the District Courts and the County Courts.

A Probate Court judge heads the Texas Probate Courts. There are currently 18 Probate Court judges in the Texas judicial system, and these judges are selected through partisan elections. Elections are held in the county where the court is located, and parties that wish to contest in the elections must be at least 25 years of age and have lived in the county for a minimum of two years before the election. In addition to this, before an individual can become a Probate Court judge, the person must be a citizen of the United States licensed to practice law in Texas and has practiced as either a lawyer or a judge for at least five years.

Elected judges serve four-year terms. When there is a vacant judgeship position due to the inability of a Probate Court judge to complete an elected term, the county commissioners of the county where the Probate Court is located will appoint a qualified individual to complete the term. Texas Probate Court judges are statutorily required to elect a presiding judge amongst themselves. This presiding judge is responsible for ensuring the proper management and administration of the Probate Courts’ judicial process. Some responsibilities of the presiding judge include:

  • Ensuring the promulgation of the local rules of administration of the Probate Courts under Supreme Court policies and guidelines
  • Comparing local rules of the Probate Courts to achieve a uniformity that is practical and consistent with local conditions
  • Advising the other Probate Court judges on case flow management practices and auxiliary court services
  • Convening and presiding over annual meetings and any other necessary meetings of the Probate Court judges to promote the orderly and efficient administration of the judicial process in the Texas Probate Courts

The presiding judge also has the authority to appoint an assistant presiding judge. The assistant presiding judge aids the presiding judge in performing the duties required of the office. In situations where the presiding judge is unable to perform these duties due to either death, resignation, illness, or any other incapacities, the assistant presiding judge becomes the acting presiding judge until the Probate Court judges elect a replacement.

Probate Court cases in the Texas court system typically take between 30 days to six months. However, in some cases, Probate Court Cases may last for a year or more. This usually happens in matters involving wills and estates where the original will cannot be located or where the will is being contested.

When a Probate Court judge issues a decision, this decision may be appealed at a Texas Court of Appeals by any of the parties involved in the case that is unsatisfied with the decision. In the Texas judicial system, parties that wish to initiate an appeal are required to begin the process not later than 30 days after the trial court’s decision is issued.

Interested members of the public can access records of Texas Probate Courts by contacting the Probate Clerk’s Office, where the case in question was filed. Note that the payment of a fee may be required before copies of these records can be obtained.

There are 18 Probate Courts in the state’s court system. These courts can be contacted with the information provided below:

Bexar County Probate Court No. 1

100 Dolorosa Street

Suite 117

San Antonio, TX 78205–3071

Phone: (210) 335–2190

Bexar County Probate Court No. 2

100 Dolorosa Street

Suite 123

San Antonio, TX 78205–3028

Phone: (210) 335–2670

Collin County Probate Court

2100 Bloomdale Road

Suite 12360

McKinney, TX 75071

Phone: (972) 548–6463

Dallas County Probate Court No. 1

Renaissance Tower

1201 Elm Street

Suite 2400-A

Dallas, TX 75270

Phone: (214) 653–7236

Dallas County Probate Court No. 2

Renaissance Tower

1201 Elm Street

Suite 2200-A

Dallas, TX 75270

Phone: (214) 653–7138

Dallas Probate Court No. 3

Renaissance Tower

1201 Elm Street

Suite 2200-B

Dallas, TX 75270

Phone: (214) 653–6166

Denton County Probate Court

Denton County Courts Building

1450 E McKinney Street

Suite 2412

Denton, TX 76209–4524

Phone: (940) 349–2036

El Paso County Probate Court No. 1

El Paso County Courthouse

500 E San Antonio Avenue

Room 803

El Paso, TX 79901–2420

Phone: (915) 546–2161

El Paso County Probate Court No. 2

El Paso County Courthouse

500 E San Antonio Avenue

Room 422

El Paso, TX 79901–2420

Phone: (915) 546–8183

Galveston County Probate Court

Galveston County Justice Center

600 59th Street

Suite 2305

Galveston, TX 77551–4180

Phone: (409) 766–2251

Harris County Probate Court No. 1

201 Caroline Street

6th Floor

Houston, TX 77002

Phone: (832) 927–1401

Harris County Probate Court No. 2

201 Caroline Street

Suite 680

Houston, TX 77002–1938

Phone: (832) 927–1402

Harris County Probate Court No. 3

201 Caroline Street

7th Floor

Houston, TX 77002

Phone: (832) 927–1403

Harris County Probate Court No. 4

201 Caroline Street

7th Floor

Houston, TX 77002

Phone: (832) 927–1404

Hidalgo County Probate Court

100 N Closner

P. O. Box 58

Edinburg, TX 78539

Phone: (956) 318–2385

Tarrant County Probate Court No. 1

Tarrant County Courthouse

100 W Weatherford

Room 260A

Fort Worth, TX 76196–0241

Phone: (817) 212–1200

Tarrant County Probate Court No. 2

Tarrant County Courthouse

100 W Weatherford

Room 150

Fort Worth, TX 76196–0241

Phone: (817) 884–1415

TravisCounty Probate Court

1000 Guadalupe Street

Room 217

Austin, TX 78701–2328

Phone: (512) 854–9258

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