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Texas Wills and Probate Law 



(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the definition for a term provided by this chapter applies in this code unless a different meaning of the term is otherwise apparent from the context in which the term is used.

(b) If Title 3 provides a definition for a term that is different from the definition provided by this chapter, the definition for the term provided by Title 3 applies in that title.


"Authorized corporate surety" means a domestic or foreign corporation authorized to engage in business in this state for the purpose of issuing surety, guaranty, or indemnity bonds that guarantee the fidelity of an executor or administrator.


"Charitable organization" means:

(1) a nonprofit corporation, trust, community chest, fund, foundation, or other entity that is:

(A) exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(a), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, by being described by Section 501(c)(3) of that code; and

(B) organized and operated exclusively for:

(i) religious, charitable, scientific, educational, or literary purposes;

(ii) testing for public safety;

(iii) preventing cruelty to children or animals; or

(iv) promoting amateur sports competition; or

(2) any other entity that is organized and operated exclusively for the purposes listed in Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986.


This section was amended by the 85th Legislature. Pending publication of the current statutes, see H.B. 2271, 85th Legislature, Regular Session, for amendments affecting this section.

§ 22.004. CHILD.

(a) "Child" includes an adopted child, regardless of whether the adoption occurred through:

(1) an existing or former statutory procedure; or

(2) acts of estoppel.

(b) The term "child" does not include a child who does not have a presumed father unless a provision of this code expressly states that a child who does not have a presumed father is included.

§ 22.005. CLAIMS.

"Claims" includes:

(1) liabilities of a decedent that survive the decedent's death, including taxes, regardless of whether the liabilities arise in contract or tort or otherwise;

(2) funeral expenses;

(3) the expense of a tombstone;

(4) expenses of administration;

(5) estate and inheritance taxes; and

(6) debts due such estates.


"Corporate fiduciary" means a financial institution, as defined by Section 201.101, Finance Code, that:

(1) is existing or engaged in business under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States;

(2) has trust powers; and

(3) is authorized by law to act under the order or appointment of a court of record, without giving bond, as receiver, trustee, executor, administrator, or, although the financial institution does not have general depository powers, depository for any money paid into the court, or to become sole guarantor or surety in or on any bond required to be given under the laws of this state.


(a) "Court" means and includes:

(1) a county court in the exercise of its probate jurisdiction;

(2) a court created by statute and authorized to exercise original probate jurisdiction; and

(3) a district court exercising original probate jurisdiction in a contested matter.

(b) The terms "county court" and "probate court" are synonymous and mean:

(1) a county court in the exercise of its probate jurisdiction;

(2) a court created by statute and authorized to exercise original probate jurisdiction; and

(3) a district court exercising probate jurisdiction in a contested matter.

(c) "Statutory probate court" means a court created by statute and designated as a statutory probate court under Chapter 25, Government Code. For purposes of this code, the term does not include a county court at law exercising probate jurisdiction unless the court is designated a statutory probate court under Chapter 25, Government Code.

§ 22.008. DEVISE.


(1) used as a noun, includes a testamentary disposition of real property, personal property, or both; and

(2) used as a verb, means to dispose of real property, personal property, or both, by will.

§ 22.009. DEVISEE.

"Devisee" includes a legatee.

§ 22.010. DISTRIBUTEE.

"Distributee" means a person who is entitled to a part of the estate of a decedent under a lawful will or the statutes of descent and distribution.

§ 22.011. DOCKET.

"Docket" means the probate docket.

§ 22.012. ESTATE.

"Estate" means a decedent's property, as that property:

(1) exists originally and as the property changes in form by sale, reinvestment, or otherwise;

(2) is augmented by any accretions and other additions to the property, including any property to be distributed to the decedent's representative by the trustee of a trust that terminates on the decedent's death, and substitutions for the property; and

(3) is diminished by any decreases in or distributions from the property.


"Exempt property" means the property in a decedent's estate that is exempt from execution or forced sale by the constitution or laws of this state, and any allowance paid instead of that property.


"Governmental agency of the state" means:

(1) a municipality;

(2) a county;

(3) a public school district;

(4) a special-purpose district or authority;

(5) a board, commission, department, office, or other agency in the executive branch of state government, including an institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code;

(6) the legislature or a legislative agency;

(7) the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, or a district, county, or justice of the peace court;

(8) a judicial agency having statewide jurisdiction; and

(9) the State Bar of Texas.

§ 22.015. HEIR.

"Heir" means a person who is entitled under the statutes of descent and distribution to a part of the estate of a decedent who dies intestate. The term includes the decedent's surviving spouse.


A person is "incapacitated" if the person:

(1) is a minor;

(2) is an adult who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to:

(A) provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself;

(B) care for the person's own physical health; or

(C) manage the person's own financial affairs; or

(3) must have a guardian appointed for the person to receive funds due the person from a governmental source.


"Independent executor" means the personal representative of an estate under independent administration as provided by Chapter 401 and Section 402.001. The term includes an independent administrator.


"Interested person" or "person interested" means:

(1) an heir, devisee, spouse, creditor, or any other having a property right in or claim against an estate being administered; and

(2) anyone interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person, including a minor.

§ 22.019. JUDGE.

"Judge" means the presiding judge of any court having original jurisdiction over probate proceedings, regardless of whether the court is:

(1) a county court in the exercise of its probate jurisdiction;

(2) a court created by statute and authorized to exercise probate jurisdiction; or

(3) a district court exercising probate jurisdiction in a contested matter.

§ 22.020. LEGACY.

"Legacy" includes a gift or devise of real or personal property made by a will.

§ 22.021. LEGATEE.

"Legatee" includes a person who is entitled to a legacy under a will.

§ 22.022. MINOR.

"Minor" means a person younger than 18 years of age who:

(1) has never been married; and

(2) has not had the disabilities of minority removed for general purposes.

§ 22.024. MORTGAGE; LIEN.

"Mortgage" and "lien" include:

(1) a deed of trust;

(2) a vendor's lien, a mechanic's, materialman's, or laborer's lien, an attachment or garnishment lien, and a federal or state tax lien;

(3) a chattel mortgage;

(4) a judgment; and

(5) a pledge by hypothecation.

§ 22.025. NET ESTATE.

"Net estate" means a decedent's property excluding:

(1) homestead rights;

(2) exempt property;

(3) the family allowance; and

(4) an enforceable claim against the decedent's estate.

§ 22.026. NEXT OF KIN.

"Next of kin" includes:

(1) an adopted child or the adopted child's descendants; and

(2) the adoptive parent of the adopted child.

§ 22.027. PERSON.

(a) "Person" includes a natural person and a corporation.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by this code, the definition of "person" assigned by Section 311.005, Government Code, does not apply to any provision in this code.


"Personal property" includes an interest in:

(1) goods;

(2) money;

(3) a chose in action;

(4) an evidence of debt; and

(5) a real chattel.


The terms "probate matter," "probate proceedings," "proceeding in probate," and "proceedings for probate" are synonymous and include a matter or proceeding relating to a decedent's estate.

§ 22.030. REAL PROPERTY.

"Real property" includes estates and interests in land, whether corporeal or incorporeal or legal or equitable. The term does not include a real chattel.


(a) "Representative" and "personal representative" include:

(1) an executor and independent executor;

(2) an administrator, independent administrator, and temporary administrator; and

(3) a successor to an executor or administrator listed in Subdivision (1) or (2).

(b) The inclusion of an independent executor in Subsection (a) may not be construed to subject an independent executor to the control of the courts in probate matters with respect to settlement of estates, except as expressly provided by law.

§ 22.032. SURETY.

"Surety" includes a personal surety and a corporate surety.

§ 22.033. WARD.

"Ward" means a person for whom a guardian has been appointed.

§ 22.034. WILL.

"Will" includes:

(1) a codicil; and

(2) a testamentary instrument that merely:

(A) appoints an executor or guardian;

(B) directs how property may not be disposed of; or

(C) revokes another will.


Contact Information

Mailing Address

Chowins Law Firm, PLLC
1011 Surrey Lane #200
Flower Mound, TX 75022


(469) 630-2550

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