Today’s Blog is Titled: What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Texas?
Death is a reality that nobody wants to face, but it’s an inevitable part of life. As much as we hate to think about it, it’s important to plan for what happens when we pass away. One of the most critical aspects of this planning is creating a will.
A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets should be distributed after your death. Sadly, many people neglect to create a will, and when they die, their estate ends up in probate. This blog will explore what happens if you die without a will in Texas, state intestacy laws, and the potential consequences of failing to plan.
DYING WITHOUT A WILL: UNDERSTANDING INTESTATE SUCCESSION LAWS IN TEXAS
In Texas, when a person dies without a valid will or trust, their assets will be distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy. This means that the court will determine how your property is divided up based on a set heir hierarchy.
Generally, this is what would happen:
- Any surviving spouse has rights to a portion of your estate.
- If you have children with that spouse, the spouse would be entitled to all community property (property acquired during marriage) plus one-third of your separate personal property (property owned before marriage or inherited). Your children would inherit the rest.
- If there are no children from the marriage or other relationships, then the surviving spouse is entitled to all community property plus all of the personal property and ½ of any real estate you owned independently.
- If there’s no surviving spouse, but there are children, they would inherit your entire estate equally.
- Deceased spouse’s children that are not of the current marriage inherit all of the deceased spouse community property.
However, if someone dies without a will and has no spouse or children at the time of death, other family members, such as parents or siblings, may become heirs according to a specific order determined by law.
AVOIDING COMPLICATIONS: WHY TEXANS NEED A WILL
If you die without a will, your entire estate would have to go through probate — a complicated and stressful legal process — to distribute your assets. This is because, without a written document that outlines your wishes, the state of Texas will determine who inherits from you based on its intestate succession laws.
This can be particularly challenging for those left behind as they try to navigate the probate court system and figure out how to divide up their property. In addition, dying without a will in Texas could result in higher estate taxes being owed.
Therefore, it’s important to take the time now to create an estate plan that includes a legally valid will outlining who should receive what after you pass away.
WHAT HAPPENS TO PROPERTY WHEN YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL?
If you die without a will in Texas, your estate will be distributed according to the legal requirements outlined in the state’s Estate Code. The probate court process involves appointing an executor or administrator to manage and distribute your estate.
This person is responsible for locating and valuing all of your assets and paying off any outstanding debts or taxes before distributing the remaining property to heirs.
If you have specific wishes about how certain assets should be distributed, creating a will is important to ensure those wishes are carried out.
Otherwise, the state’s Estate Code will determine how your assets are distributed among family members based on their relationship with you.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ASSETS AND ENSURE YOUR LOVED ONES ARE TAKEN CARE OF
If you don’t have a will in Texas, your dependents may not be provided for in the way you would want them to be. This is especially true if you have young children who would need guardianship arrangements made for them. Without a will, the probate court decides who will care for your children and their assets.
To ensure that your loved ones are taken care of properly after your passing, it is important to make provisions for them in a will or, better, a trust.
Here are three things to consider when providing for dependents:
- Who do you want to take care of your children? If you have minor children, it’s essential that you name a guardian in your will so that they’re taken care of by someone trustworthy and capable.
- How much money do you want to leave behind? Depending on the age of your children, they may need financial support until they are adults. You can set up trusts or designate beneficiaries in your will to ensure that their needs are met.
- What happens if something happens to both parents? It’s important to have contingency plans in place so that even if both parents pass away, the children are still cared for according to their wishes.
One effective way to keep your hard-earned assets safe and sound and hand them off to the next generation is through estate planning. Creating a comprehensive estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. This includes making a will, setting up trusts, designating beneficiaries for retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and more.
By creating an estate plan that considers inheritance laws and tax implications, you can minimize the risk of disputes over your assets and provide for your loved ones efficiently.
SEEKING PROFESSIONAL LEGAL ADVICE
Whether you are settling the estate of a loved one who has passed away without a will or you are planning for the future, hiring an estate planning attorney is critical. A Texas attorney can provide clarity and guidance for your loved ones during the probate or estate planning process.
A good lawyer will help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure your loved one’s assets are distributed fairly. Remember, the lawyer you choose will represent your interests in court and engage with other legal professionals on your behalf. Making a wise choice in this matter is crucial to safeguarding your legacy.
Don’t leave anything to chance regarding your estate planning needs. Seek professional legal advice from Your Legacy Legal Care.
Contact us today for a consultation.
Written by Kimberly Hegwood, an experienced Texas Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney and the founder of the Your Legacy Legal Care in Houston, Texas. Attorney Hegwood is a Member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, and she and her law firm have a Featured Listing on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources to help families plan for and deal with the Issues of Aging.
If you have additional questions about your family’s Elder Care / Senior Care Matters, you can count on ElderCareMatters.com (America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources) to help you find local Elder Care / Senior Care Professionals who can help you with your family’s Issues of Aging. Search our National Database by City and Service Category. (This Search feature is located on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com).
The Elder Care / Senior Care Experts that are found on ElderCareMatters.com can provide you with the help you need in a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services, including Elder Law, Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, Home Care, Assisted Living, Care Management, Daily Money Management, Wills & Trusts, Probate and many other Elder Care Services.
We look forward to helping you plan for and deal with your family’s Issues of Aging.