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I am sorry to hear about your loss. If your father did not have a Will, then default succession laws apply - see HERE and scroll down to "Who Gets What in Texas." In this case:
- the spouse inherits 1/3 of his personal property and 1/2 of common property (that they amassed together) and the right to use the home for life
- children inherit everything else.
However, if she is not cooperating, then probate has to be filed in order to force her to cooperate.
When someone passes away, then their estate has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts (those that do not have a pay on death clause) - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name. Also the parties may fight or lock each other out over the estate.
So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration (hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney," but from the Court. The Executor also has the ability via Court to enforce how the estate is divided.
Someone in your situation wants to initiate probate (using an attorney if possible), and to be appointed Executor (you or someone else) who can do this.
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