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Are children automatic heirs under state intestate law?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Probate Administration |

If a parent dies without a will in Texas, you may naturally feel worried about being able to inherit the property of your loved one. Probate can become complicated without guidance from a will, and you may wonder if a court will respect your rights once probate proceeds.

Fortunately, state law provides guidance on what children may expect in an intestate situation. Many types of children are automatic heirs, but not all of them.

Biological children

Biological children typically have strong inheritance rights under Texas intestate law. If a person dies without a spouse, their biological children inherit the entire estate equally. When a surviving spouse exists, biological children still inherit a portion of the estate, with the exact share depending on whether the property is separate or community.

Children born out of wedlock

Not all biological children are the product of a married couple. Still, Texas law does not exclude children from unmarried couples from inheritance. In fact, starting back a few decades, the state has granted illegitimate children the same intestate rights as children from marriage.

Adopted children

Texas law treats adopted children the same as biological children for inheritance purposes. Adopted children have the same rights to inherit from their adoptive parents as biological children do. This equal treatment ensures that probate courts will recognize adopted children as part of their adoptive family.


Stepchildren face a different situation under state law. Unlike biological and adopted children, stepchildren do not automatically inherit from a stepparent who dies without a will. This is because Texas law does not recognize stepchildren as legal heirs.

However, an exception exists for stepchildren if they were legally adopted by the stepparent. This allows them to receive inheritance rights like any other adopted person.

Children under Texas law have a solid standing to contest for their rights in the probate system if there is no will or a will has serious flaws. Still, other factors can be in play, such as multiple heirs who may contest for an inheritance. Make sure you have a strong case and the support you need to navigate a difficult legal process.