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

By A.L. Kennedy

In Texas, the will of a deceased person must be admitted to probate in order to determine whether it is valid and to distribute the estate. A will is not filed in the public records office in Texas. Rather, it is filed with the probate court in order to begin probating the estate.

Where to File a Texas Will

After the death of the person who made the will, also known as the testator, the will should be filed with the probate court in the county where where the testator lived and had most or all of his assets. Filing the will with the probate court opens the probate process of wrapping up the deceased person's affairs and carrying out the instructions in his will.

Who Should File a Texas Will

The Texas Probate Code requires anyone in the possession of a deceased person's original last will and testament to file it with the appropriate probate court. If the person who has the will refuses to file and cannot give the court a valid reason for her refusal, Texas law allows the probate judge to send the person to jail until she agrees to file the will or to turn it over to someone else for filing. The executor named in the will, a beneficiary or a creditor of the estate may take the will for filing.

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What Should Be Filed With the Will

Along with the original of the will itself, at least two other documents should also be filed with the probate court, according to the Texas Probate Code. The first is a petition to begin the probate process in the court. The second is a document requesting that the executor named in the will be formally appointed and given the power to carry out his duties. If no executor is named in the will, you may file a request for the court to appoint an administrator to carry out the same duties as an executor.

How to Locate the Appropriate Court

The appropriate probate court is the court in the county where the deceased person lived, or, if he lived out of state yet died in Texas, the county where the deceased person died, according to the Texas Probate Code. Texas maintains an online database and map of its statutory probate courts (see Resources).

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