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The thought of passing away without leaving behind specific instructions for our belongings can be a daunting one. For Texans, understanding the laws surrounding intestate succession, or the process that dictates how assets are distributed if one dies without a valid will or trust, is essential. Here’s what happens under Texas law.

The Basics of Intestate Succession in Texas

If you pass away without a will or trust in Texas, you are considered to have died “intestate.” As a result, Texas state laws will determine how your property is distributed, regardless of your personal wishes or the needs of your loved ones.

How Property is Distributed

  1. For Single Individuals Without Children: If you are single and have no children, your assets will go in the following order:
    • To your parents, if both are alive.
    • If only one parent is alive, half to your surviving parent and half to your siblings.
    • If no parents are alive, your assets will be divided among your siblings.
  1. For Married Individuals: In Texas, it’s crucial to recognize the difference between community property (property acquired during the marriage) and separate property (property acquired before the marriage or through gifts/inheritance).
    • Community Property: Generally, if you are married and have children from that marriage, your surviving spouse will inherit all the community property. If you have children from a previous relationship, your half of the community property goes to your children, and your spouse keeps their half.
    • Separate Property: If you have no children, your spouse inherits all your separate personal property. But if you have children, siblings, or parents alive, the distribution becomes more complex.
  1. For Individuals With Children, but Not Married: Your children will generally inherit everything. If they are minors, a legal guardian will be assigned to manage the property until they come of age.
  1. No Immediate Family: If you die without a will and have no spouse, children, parents, or siblings, the state looks to more distant relatives, following a predetermined hierarchy which includes nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. If no relatives can be found, the state of Texas will take your assets.

Homestead Property

In Texas, the homestead property holds a unique place. If you are survived by a spouse, they have the right to use the homestead for the rest of their life, even if you have children from a previous relationship. After your spouse’s death, the property will then pass to your descendants.

Final Thoughts

While Texas has detailed laws to address the distribution of assets for those who die intestate, the results may not align with what you envision for your loved ones. The best way to ensure that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes is to consult with an estate planning attorney and create a comprehensive will or trust.

Remember, estate planning isn’t just about the distribution of assets; it’s about peace of mind for you and protection for your loved ones. Don’t leave these critical decisions up to the state—take control of your legacy today.

Dana Baker, Esq.

My goal is to be your trusted advisor who helps you make the
very best personal, financial, legal, and business decisions
for your family and your business throughout your lifetime
Call Us Now - (979) 310-5507

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