Policy

The Texas Access to Justice Commission focuses on removing barriers to justice for low-income Texans. Advocating for systemic change is an important part of making justice more equitable for everyone. 

The Commission works closely with the Texas legislature and the judiciary to formulate solutions to the problems Texans face when they can’t afford an attorney.

Here are a few highlights of our hard work:

Rule 145

Low-income Texans cannot afford to pay the filing fees and court cost needed to resolve their legal matters. These expenses can be waived under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 145. However, these expenses are often wrongly denied, effectively closing the courthouse doors to the poor. The Commission has proposed significant changes to Rule 145 which currently await action by the Texas Supreme Court. More »

Transfer on death deed

A transfer on death deed is a new way for Texans to pass down real property outside of probate court. For less than $50, low-income Texans can now pass clear title to their family homes without the expense obtaining legal assistance or paying probate costs.  More »

Payable-on-death account

This legislation improves the disclosures that banks make to customers about payable-on-death accounts. The goal is to encourage consumers to choose payable-on-death accounts so their account funds can pass directly to a named beneficiary without the burden and cost of probate court. More »

Small Estates Affidavit

When the value of an intestate estate is $50,000 or less, a small estate affidavit can be filed if the estate has no debt. Instead of guessing, heirs can now get a court order directing a bank to disclose the decedent’s bank account balance to see if there are enough assets to cover the debts of the estate. More »

DIY Forms

A key strategy for reducing barriers to justice is the creation of easy-to-use, Texas Supreme Court approved forms that allow low-income Texans to handle relatively simple legal matters by themselves. When people are not able to access the expertise and advice of an attorney, it is better for them – and the courts that serve them – to have good, legally sound forms that resolve their legal issue. More »