Do You File a Will in the Public Records Office in Texas?

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

Do You File a Will in the Public Records Office in Texas?

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

In Texas, wills are not filed with the public records office. They're filed with the probate court when its creator, called the testator, passes away. Because the probate court is the county court responsible for overseeing the administration of these documents when the testator passes away, it determines the validity of a will in Texas—not the public records office.

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Roles Designated in a Will

Wills name the individual who will handle all responsibilities with regard to the duties outlined in the final testament and the heirs of the testator's estate. These people are known as:

  • The executor: The document should name the executor of the estate, who is the person responsible for executing the terms of the testament and is often a member of the testator's family or a trusted friend.
  • The beneficiaries: The beneficiaries of a will are the people who inherit assets from the testator when he or she passes away. The executor may also be a beneficiary.

The probate process begins when someone files the will with the probate court in the county where the testator lived when he or she passed away. Any person in possession of the final testament when the testator passes away may file the document with the appropriate probate court, though the executor or a beneficiary it designates often performs this task. The probate court may find an individual in contempt if he or she refuses to file the document without a valid reason. A person in possession of the will can also turn it over to someone else who can file it appropriately.

The Probate Process

Once the will is filed, the probate process is overseen by the probate court, not the public records office. The probate process includes wrapping up the testator's estate, paying valid debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries according to the terms of the final testament.

When you file the will, the Texas Probate Code requires the original document. You should file a document requesting the named executor receive power to carry out his or her duties at the same time you file the testament. In cases where the will does not name an executor, request court appointment of an administrator to act as executor. The office of public records in the State of Texas is not involved in the probate process.

Each county in the State of Texas has a probate court. If you are unsure about where you need to file, search the internet for the testator's county name and the term "probate court."

Public Records Office in Texas

In the State of Texas, the public records office is unrelated to wills. Do not file one in the public records office in the State of Texas. Instead, file the testator's final testament with the probate court in the county where the testator lived upon their passing.

For assistance executing a will, you may want to consult an estate planning attorney who can answer any questions that you may have about serving as an executor or drafting a valid final testament.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.