You’ve probably heard from multiple sources that it’s important to have a will, but you may not understand the reasons behind this extremely important estate planning document. When you die without a will in Texas, otherwise known as dying “intestate,” the laws of the state step in to distribute your assets. You have no control over which of your relatives and friends receive your belongings, even if you’ve mentioned that you want a certain item to go to a specific person. Statutory provisions known as “intestate succession” laws govern the handling of your assets, and the distribution depends upon who survives you.
Intestacy handles the property of married couples based upon when it was acquired. Community property is comprised of assets obtained during marriage. Your surviving spouse receives all of these items if you have no children or if all of your children were born to the marriage. If you have children from another relationship, they split a one-half share of the entire value of the property and your surviving spouse keeps the other.
Anything you’ve acquired outside the marriage is handled under separate property rules. When you die leaving a spouse and children, one third of it goes to your spouse and one third is inherited by your children. As for the remaining third, your surviving spouse does have the right to use the property during his or her lifetime, at which point it’s handed over to your children.
If you die unmarried with children, they split your entire estate. However, when you have no children as a single person, the intestacy rules can become quite complex.
When both of your parents survive you, they receive equal shares of your estate. If only one parent is alive when you pass and you have siblings or nieces and nephews, the parent gets one half and your siblings or their descendants split the other half.
Your entire estate is distributed to your heirs if your parents predecease you. This includes an equal share to each of your siblings, and their children split that share if your sibling has passed away.
If you have no surviving parents, siblings or their descendants, your property is split in half and distributed to your relatives on your mother’s and father’s sides of the family equally.
As you can see, none of these provisions take your wishes into account, which is why having a will is so important.
Prevent The Laws Of Intestacy From Distributing Your Assets
There is only one way to ensure the laws of the state of Texas don't apply to your belongings when you die: Execute a will. However, a document of this magnitude is not something to be taken lightly and it’s recommended you consult a lawyer when drawing up your estate plan. The Amarillo attorneys at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. have extensive experience with estate planning and administration. Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation where we can discuss your options.