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What courts handle probate litigation in Texas?

The Texas Legislature has constitutional authority to select the courts that govern probate matters. According to that authority, the government has set up 18 courts throughout the state with probate jurisdiction. The courts are located in 10 counties; the areas were chosen because they are among the top metropolitan areas in the state.

To better serve the residents of Texas, some county courts have been granted statutory jurisdiction over probate matters. Those statutory courts would have concurrent jurisdiction with the constitutional court, which means that a case could not be appealed from the statutory court to the constitutional court. The district courts are only granted this jurisdiction when a contested probate case has been properly moved from the constitutional court.

In larger metropolitan areas, probate matters are often handled by a court that singularly deals in estate cases. This keeps probate matters from other courts and helps expedite estate matters.

For the purpose of the Texas probate courts, probate cases are defined as cases that involve guardianships, mental health commitments and probate matters. Understanding what type of case is relevant and which court has jurisdiction can be difficult. Depending on the location of the case, the court that hears matters may be a county court, statutory probate court, county court at law or a district court.

Understanding the court structure is just one step in what can be a complex probate matter. Probate litigation often combines difficult matters of finance or business with the emotions of friends and family. A third party may provide the guidance and point of view that is needed to solve things in the most expedient, fair and legal manner possible.

Source: Texas Courts Online, "Statutory Probate Courts" Sep. 04, 2014

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