In a perfect world, every individual would have a clearly defined estate plan and a will before they pass on. Unfortunately, life circumstances and the unexpected can get in the way of perfect planning. In Texas, state intestate succession laws define the way your assets will go to your closest family members in the event you pass without a last will and testament.
Intestate Succession in Texas
Texas law defines the order of succession for various possible circumstances. The first few circumstances are relatively simple. If you die with living children but no spouse, your children inherit everything. If you die with a spouse but no children, your spouse inherits everything. Likewise, if you die with parents but no siblings and no spouse or children, your parents inherit everything, and the same goes for if you have siblings but no living parents, spouse, or children.
Things become more complicated if you have a combination of relatives. If you have a spouse and children who are also your spouse’s children, the spouse inherits your community property, or the property amassed during your marriage, plus one-third of your personal property acquired before marriage and the rights to your real estate. Children inherit everything else. On the other hand, if you have a spouse and children who are not your spouse’s children, your spouse only gets half of your community property, and your children share your remaining community property interest. If you have a spouse and parents, your spouse will inherit all of your community property, all of your personal property, but only half of your separate real estate, and your parents inherit everything else.
Only property and assets that go into probate will flow through the intestate succession order. Some assets that avoid probate include property that has been transferred to a living trust, life insurance proceeds and other accounts such as retirement accounts that have a named beneficiary, and accounts that have transfer on death provisions. In this case, assets will go to the named beneficiary regardless of if you have a will. These types of property may go through intestate succession if none of the named beneficiaries are alive or can be reached. Finally, if you do not have any family, your property will transfer to the state. However, this is rare, because even grandchildren, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and other more distant relatives are included in the state’s various intestate succession plans.
These intestate succession provisions are complicated and may not take your wishes into account. Planning for end of life with an experienced estate planning attorney can protect your assets and save your family from the headache.
Texas Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning the right way may seem complicated, but with the right estate planning attorney, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your family and assets will be protected. The Houston estate planning lawyers at McCulloch Miller, PLLC have extensive experience in estate planning and other family law and financial matters. Contact our office at 713-936-9073 to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney on our team.