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Did he have any assets in his name solely, like bank accounts, investments, vehicles, etc.?
Any real estate?
If so, what would you estimate the value of his estate to be?
Ok, then yes, you would need to file a formal probate case because the only way to transfer the deeds out of his name would be for the Administrator of his estate to do so. And you can only become Admin if a judge appoints you to that position.
And unfortunately, TX is one of a couple states that makes it mandatory for someone to hire an attorney to represent the estate because they consider this practice of law.
So yes, you can be the Administrator, but you will need to hire a local probate attorney to assist.