January 1, 2014 changes

A few comments about e-filing

  • By now, all attorneys know the basics – effective January 1, 2014, attorneys must electronically file all documents that they are filing with the clerk in Travis County. Among other rules, see:

TRCP 21 (f)(1), Electronic Filing. Requirement. “Except in juvenile cases under Title 3 of the Family Code, attorney must electronically file documents in courts where electronic filing has been mandated. Attorneys practicing in courts where electronic filing is available but not mandated and unrepresented parties may electronically file documents, but it is not required.”
TRCP 21(a), Filing and Service Required. “Every pleading, plea, motion, or application to the court for an order, whether in the form of a motion, plea, or other form of request, unless presented during a hearing or trial, must be filed with the clerk of the court in writing . . . .”

The question everyone was asking: What about wills?

1. TRCP 21(f)(4)(A), Electronic Filing. Exceptions.

“Wills are not required to be filed electronically.”

2. TRCP 21(f)(12), Electronic Filing. Original Wills.

“When a party electronically files an application to probate a document as an original will, the original will must be filed with the clerk within three business days after the application is filed.”

Write the cause number at the top of the first page.

3. Administrative Order regarding will copies.

4. If you file a pdf of a will with your application, have it be an exhibit, NOT a separate document.

Doing so will make the clerk’s docket less confusing. (As you probably know, this is a change from what we requested before mandatory e-filing.)

5. Original will – or a copy?

Look a little closer than you have in the past to see if you’re probating an original or a copy. Currently, clerks sometimes identify a will as a copy when the attorney thought it was an original – and they can notify the attorney in time to have the correct posting, saving the cost of a second posting. With mandatory e-filing, clerks obviously will be relying solely on what the application notes. If you know you’re filing an application to probate a copy of a will, obviously indicate that fact in your initial pleadings. If you do, the posting (and the ad litem deposit) will be correct. If your application says that an original will is being probated, and it turns out to be a copy, the required deposit will be collected later and reposting will be required.

What about proposed orders, testimony, oaths, etc.? You can electronically file these documents with the clerk, although technically they are not being filed. You can also deliver them to the Court as long as we know why we’re getting them.

  • For the uncontested probate-docket, see the attached new paperwork guidelines, significantly modified for mandatory e-filing (updated 1/1/2014).
  • If you electronically file any proposed documents – either at the time the application is filed or afterwards – be sure to precede the proposed documents with a cover letter so the documents are not filemarked when “filed.” Include the hearing date on the cover sheet if a hearing has been set.

What about documents that get signed after a hearing? Essentially nothing will change about documents that get signed immediately after a hearing such as the order, the testimony reduced to writing, and the oaths that are signed immediately after the hearing. We haven’t worked the details out with the clerks, but these types of documents will be handled as court documents, not attorney pleadings.

What about bonds? Deliver the original, signed bond to the court, not the clerk, and the approved bond will be taken to the Clerk’s Office as a court document.

From the Clerk’s Office: When opening a new case, put your application or petition as the lead document so the electronic file mark will be placed on the application or petition. All other documents – including the court case information sheet and probate court supplement – should be attachments or subsequent filings.

Probate Court

courthouse

Travis County Courthouse

1000 Guadalupe
Room 217
Austin, TX 78701

Mailing address

P.O. Box 1748
Austin, TX 78767

(512) 854-9258
Fax: (512) 854-4418

Hours: M-F, 8:00-12:00 & 1:00-5:00

Court staff

Directions to the Travis County Courthouse.