Texas allows for independent administration. If there is a valid will that names an independent executor, this is the process that should be used. Probate is the legal process that transfers title of property from the estate of the person who has died, known as the "decedent", to his or her beneficiaries. Probate is often sought when the decedent owned real property or financial accounts and the financial institution has requested Letters Testamentary.
Probate without a will
Texas has default inheritance rules in place for such an occurrence. See Texas Estates Code Chapter 201. Therefore, if there is no will, or the decedent's will is found to be invalid, the decedent's heirs can still be determined and the decedent's estate can still be probated.
Affidavit of Heirship
This type of affidavit is used to establish title to real estate where the sole asset of the estate is real property. In order to file an affidavit of heirship, the decedent must have died without a will, no petition for the appointment of a personal representative may be pending or have been granted; and no formal administration is necessary.
Small Estate Affidavit
This type of affidavit is used to collect a small amount of money owed to the estate (such as a small bank account). A small estate affidavit may also be used to transfer title to real property that still qualifies as a homestead upon the death of the decedent. In order for the court to approve such an affidavit the decedent must have died without a will; the assets of the estate, exclusive of homestead and exempt property, must exceed the known liabilities of said estate, exclusive of liabilities secured by homestead and exempt property; no petition for the appointment of a personal representative may be pending or have been granted; thirty days must have elapsed since the death of the decedent; and the value of the entire assets of the estate, not including homestead and exempt property, must not exceed $50,000.