When it comes to handling an estate in Texas, real estate is one of the most common complicating factors. Small estates can often sidestep the probate process, but the inclusion of real estate assets in an estate will usually necessitate going through the probate court, regardless of the fair market value of the home.

Dealing with the probate courts is one of the most stressful aspects of losing a spouse. In some cases, you may have to complete paperwork and then communicate with different companies in order to make all the necessary changes and arrangements after your spouse’s death, on top of needing to present documentation to the courts.

If you and your deceased spouse shared ownership of your marital home or if the marital home is only in the name of your spouse, you will likely need to take action to assert your ownership interest and protect your tenancy.

How you hold title will impact what steps you take next

When you purchase a home, you include specific language on the deed that you sign when the seller transfers the property to you. You and your spouse may have simply included your names on the title, which is a common approach. Perhaps only your spouse is on the title because they owned the property before they married you or they inherited it from a family member. In these situations, you will need to work with the probate courts to remove your ex’s name from the title for the property.

In some cases, your spouse could pass their portion of the property to someone else, which could complicate your financial or living situation. However, if you held the title as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, your spouse’s ownership interest in your home will pass directly to you upon their death, which could simplify the process.

You need to notify taxing authorities, utility companies and your insurance provider

Whether both of your names are on the account or just the name of your deceased ex, you will have multiple accounts associated with your home that will require changes and updates after a death. Typically, this gets handled outside of court.

You will need to provide copies of the death certificate, court documentation and even affidavits in some situations to have your deceased partner removed from accounts. Only when all accounts, the title and the mortgage(s) associated with the property are in your name can you finally view the process as complete.