An affidavit of heirship can be used when someone has died intestate (without a will) to identify heirs to any real estate or property they may leave behind. It is important to note that the purpose of an affidavit of heirship is to create a clean chain of title transfer to a decedent’s heirs; it does not transfer the property itself.

Two disinterested witnesses should sign the affidavit of heirship. To qualify as a disinterested party, a disinterested witness should know the decedent and their family but must not benefit financially or otherwise from the estate. The witnesses will be required to swear under oath to specific information about the family member or decedent, such as the date and place of death, the identity of any family members, and the status of any debts they may have had.

What Are the Requirements for an Affidavit of Heirship?

In Texas, an affidavit of heirship can be used for real property only when there is no will, or there is a will, but it has not been probated four years after the person the property originally belonged to dies. For the affidavit of heirship to be valid, it must contain how long the heir has known the decedent, information about the decedent’s other heirs (such as birth dates and addresses), any unpaid debts the decedent may have had, and a list of all the property owned by the decedent at the time of their death.

Can an Affidavit of Heirship Be Contested, and if So, by Whom?

A Texas affidavit of heirship can be contested. This may be done by other heirs who disagree that you should receive the property or believe they should have been listed as an heir on the affidavit. Because an affidavit of heirship does not affect the rights of an omitted heir or any creditors of the decedent’s estate however, they can challenge any ownership claim and claim an interest in the property owned by the decedent at any time.

Anyone who challenges your claim may file a counter-affidavit with the information they believe to be correct. This often includes documentation such as birth or death certificates in an effort to prove their claim. The court must then weigh the two claims and decide which one is the most valid.

When Should I Use an Affidavit of Heirship?

An affidavit of heirship, Texas must immediately follow, is best used when the estate a decedent leaves behind consists only of real property and if no will has been left behind. Because it avoids the probate process, this method is cheaper and quicker than traditional methods and allows heirs to receive their property in a timely fashion, rather than it moving through probate court.

If you are not sure if you should use an affidavit of heirship or need help drafting or contesting one, please call an experienced Texas attorney now at 281-771-0560.