When a person dies without a will in Texas, the intestate laws govern the distribution of his or her property. Conversely, having a valid will ensures that the deceased person can express their wishes about this matter.
Review the intestate laws in Texas to understand the importance of creating an estate plan.
Generally, a deceased person’s surviving spouse inherits everything. If he or she has children but no spouse, the children inherit all assets. Parents inherit everything if the person has no surviving siblings, spouse or children. Siblings become the primary inheritors if the person has no surviving children, spouse or parents.
Texas also determines the share of assets when a person has several survivors. For example, when the deceased has a surviving spouse and shares children with that person, the children get 2/3 of the person’s separate personal property and the spouse receives the remainder of personal and community property.
Not all property transfers according to Texas intestate laws. Even if the deceased person has not have a will, some assets automatically go to a named beneficiary or co-owner. Examples include assets held in joint tenancy, property held in a living trust, and bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance proceeds for which the deceased person designated a beneficiary.
Creating a robust estate plan can ensure that the deceased person’s family can realize his or her intentions. Most people should have a will as well as document such as a power of attorney, which lets them name someone to make decisions if they cannot do so.