If a Texas resident dies without a will, state law may determine what happens to that individual’s property. In many cases, the assets of those who die intestate go to a spouse, parent or sibling. By creating a will, a person may be able to determine who gets money in a bank account, ownership of a home or control of other assets. Furthermore, parents can use a will to designate guardians for their children.

Assets that are held in a person’s estate will need to go through probate before they can be transferred to beneficiaries. The deceased person will likely have named an executor in his or her will. This individual will represent the estate during the probate process that can take up to a year or longer to complete. It is important to note that some assets can pass to beneficiaries without the need for probate to occur.

For instance, the death benefit from a life insurance policy may be passed to the beneficiary listed on the account as soon as the policyholder passes. Ideally, an individual will create his or her will with the assistance of an attorney or estate planning professional. This may help to ensure that the document complies with state laws and more closely reflects the current and future wishes of the person who creates it.

Creating or updating a will is one of several actions a person will likely need to take during the estate planning process. Ideally, individuals will review their wills every year or when a major life event such as the birth of a child or grandchild takes place. It may also be worthwhile to create a trust, power of attorney documents or a living will to help bolster the effectiveness of an estate plan.