Some people may think that because they don’t have many assets, they may as well forgo the process of writing a will. However, if you have any assets that are not covered in a will, it becomes the job of the Texas probate court to distribute those according to the intestate succession laws. These override any wishes you have unless you have an official estate plan.

Say, for example, that your most significant asset is a vehicle that you purchased shortly after you married for the second time, and you would like your son from your first marriage to have it. According to the Texas statutes, your spouse shares any of the assets you purchased or earned during your marriage because of the state’s community property law. However, your spouse would not become the sole owner of the vehicle upon your death. Instead, he or she would receive one-half of the estate, and your son would receive the other half. The probate administrator may have to sell the vehicle in order to divide the asset equally.

If you purchased the vehicle before your marriage, it is likely separate property, but if you do not have a will, your son still may not inherit it. The intestate succession law states that your spouse receives one-third of your noncommunity property, and the remaining two-thirds is divided equally among your children, so in this case as well, the vehicle is likely to be sold.

There are many other twists on who inherits your estate and how much they receive depending on who your surviving family members are, your estate taxes and other debts, how many of your assets are community property and other factors. Therefore, this general information about dying without a will should not be interpreted as legal advice.