Uncontested Probate in Texas: A Smoother Process

Uncontested Probate is the legal process that happens after someone dies. It involves identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s assets, paying any outstanding debts and taxes from the estate, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs as specified in the will. When someone dies without a will, the probate process can become contentious as family members squabble over the division of assets. However, with proper estate planning, probate can often be uncontested, making for a much smoother process.

What Does Uncontested Probate Mean?

Uncontested probate means that no one files any objections to the will or how the estate is being handled. All beneficiaries agree on the distribution of assets and the administration of the estate. With no objections, the probate process can proceed more quickly and with less cost and hassle.

How to Make Probate Uncontested

Here are some tips for ensuring a smooth, uncontested probate process in Texas:

  • Have an updated will and review it regularly. An ambiguous or outdated will often leads to disputes.
  • Discuss plans for your estate with beneficiaries ahead of time. This reduces surprises and objections later.
  • Name a trusted executor in your will. An organized, responsible executor will efficiently handle probate.
  • Consider creating a living trust. Assets in a trust don’t go through probate, avoiding potential conflicts.
  • Maintain open communication with beneficiaries throughout probate. Transparency prevents disagreements.
  • Use a probate attorney. An experienced probate lawyer can advise on avoiding disputes.

The Benefits of Uncontested Probate

Choosing uncontested probate through careful estate planning provides several advantages:

  • Lower expenses: With no disputes to resolve, legal and administration costs are minimized.
  • Quicker process: Uncontested probate in Texas generally completes in 4-6 months rather than 1-2 years for contested.
  • Less stress: Without family infighting, uncontested probate is emotionally easier on beneficiaries.
  • Greater control: Your wishes, not a judge’s interpretation, determine how assets are distributed.
  • Privacy: Keeping affairs out of court maintains confidentiality.

Common Law Marriage in Texas

Texas recognizes common law marriage, an alternative to formal marriage. Unlike other states, partners can gain spousal rights through common law marriage in Texas.

What is Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is created when a couple ages 18 or older agree to be married and subsequently live together and present themselves publicly as a married couple. No license or ceremony is required.

Qualifying for Common Law Marriage

To qualify as common law spouses in Texas, a couple must:

  • Make a formal or informal agreement to be married
  • Live together as spouses in Texas (cannot already be legally married)
  • Represent to others that they are married
  • Both be over 18 and legally able to marry
  • Have no close blood relationship

Proving Common Law Marriage

Proving common law marriage requires showing evidence of the couple’s agreement, cohabitation, and public representation as spouses. Examples include:

  • Telling others you are married
  • Calling each other husband/wife
  • Filing joint tax returns
  • Sharing insurance policies
  • Jointly owning property
  • Raising children together

Without firm evidence, common law marriage can be difficult to establish. Keeping documents like tax returns, leases, and insurance policies can help prove a common law marriage exists.

Rights and Responsibilities

Like formal marriage, common law marriage confers all the same legal rights and obligations:

  • The spouse is next-of-kin for inheritance and medical decisions
  • Debt incurred during the marriage is shared
  • Property accumulated is community property
  • Alimony may be owed if you divorce
  • A legal divorce is required to end the marriage

While easier to establish than formal marriage, common law marriage is legally the same. The same advice applies – enter into it thoughtfully! With proper estate planning, you can avoid headaches and disputes over assets and inheritance. An experienced probate attorney can ensure your wishes are properly documented and your loved ones are protected.


Careful estate planning through a will, trusts, and open communication with beneficiaries can help ensure the probate process after your death goes smoothly and is free of disputes. Texas also recognizes common law marriage in Texas between consenting partners who live and present themselves publicly as married. This confers all the rights and obligations of a traditional marriage. Understanding the probate process and your options like common law marriage will help you properly plan your estate and protect your loved ones.