Getting to Know the Texas Intestate Laws
As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, a will is the cornerstone of any Houston estate plan. In a will, a person can determine what will happen with their property. However, not having a will does not mean that someone’s property will end up with the state. Instead, the Texas intestate laws dictate how the property will be distributed.
Texas intestate laws determine how an individual’s property is passed on. Rather than take a look at subjective factors such as close relationships or the deceased’s intentions, the intestate laws look only to the surviving family members of the deceased. This is not necessarily a problem if the deceased has no children, or family members all can agree on what the deceased’s intentions were. However, that is not often the case.
Below is an example of how the state’s intestate laws operate in one of the more common situations in which someone passes away, leaving a spouse and children behind. Of course, there are many other situations that are beyond the scope of this post. Anyone with questions should consult with an experienced Houston estate planning attorney.
In the situation where someone dies with a spouse and children, the final division of assets will depend on whether the children are also the children of the surviving spouse. If so, the surviving spouse will inherit all the deceased’s community property as well as one-third of their separate personal property. In addition, the surviving spouse will have a life estate to use any of the deceased’s real estate. The children will inherit everything else, including the remainder interest to any real estate.
If someone passes away with a spouse and children who are not also children of the spouse (such as the case in a re-marriage), the division is similar. However, rather than the spouse inheriting all of the deceased’s community property, the surviving spouse will inherit half, and the surviving children will inherit the remaining half.
Intestate laws are inflexible, and are designed only as a fail-safe for those who do not have a valid will. Once someone passes on, it is too late to make any modifications to their estate, or how they want their assets distributed. Thus, it is crucial for those who want to have a say in how their assets are divided upon their death to take action now.
Contact an Experienced Houston Estate Planning Law Firm
If you do not yet have an estate plan, or if it has been years since you updated your estate plan, reach out to the dedicated Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Our dedicated team of attorneys is experienced in all elements of estate planning, including drafting wills and creating trusts. We also have unique experience with less common – but equally important aspects of estate planning such as special needs planning, Medicaid planning, and business succession planning. Whatever your estate planning needs are, we can help. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today, call 713-333-8900.