AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County Commissioners are expected to begin discussing whether or not the county will file proposed legislation to create a new probate court Tuesday.
“Probate courts in Texas do two things really, they handle the estates of deceased people,” said probate attorney Dick Brown. “The other thing probate courts do is handle the affairs of incompetent people.”
Right now, there’s only one probate court in Travis County, unlike in counties such as Bexar and Harris which have at least two, a spokesperson said.
During court Tuesday, commissioners are expected to vote on whether to post notice of intent on the item. It’s the first procedural step in the process, and doesn’t mean the county has to or will file the proposed legislation.
“Because state statute requires a 30-day notice when a county wants to implement a new probate court, we wanted to get ahead of the game,” said Hector Nieto, the director of Travis County’s public information office. “Right now there are possible discussions with regards to adding a probate court, but that’s going to be up to the determination of the commissioners court.”
Moving forward, a super majority of the body (at least four members in this case) would need to vote to send the legislative proposal to the legislature, which convenes for the 88th Legislative session Tuesday. The session is 140 days long.
“Right now Travis County is the only major urban county that doesn’t have a second probate court,” Nieto said. “Because growth is obviously happening here in Travis County, it’s time for us to start at least looking into the possibility.”
Brown, of Brown, Lacallade and Lange, says the probate process is fairly easy in Travis County right now, but that getting a second probate court is long overdue.
“We can get a hearing typically within a month in Travis County, I can remember when you could easily get one within two weeks but times change, the county has grown,” Brown said.
It will keep the county from experiencing backlog in the future when it comes to time-sensitive issues that would end up in the court, such as an executor being appointed to have access to someone’s cash assets.
“Funeral arrangements have to be made, funerals are not cheap and sometimes there’s not a family member who can come up with the cash or credit card capacity to pay for a funeral,” Brown said.
The item is expected to be brought back before commissioners later this month so they can hear from judges and decide how to move forward, if at all.
“There will be a lot more work to be done before this is even considered,” Nieto said.