What Happens If You Die Without A Will
When a person dies without having a valid will in place, his or her property passes by what is called "intestate succession" to heirs according to state law. In other words, if you don't have a will, the state will make one for you. All fifty states have laws (or "statutes") of this kind on the books. The purpose of intestate succession statutes is to distribute the decedent's wealth in a manner that closely represents how the average person would have designed his or her estate plan, had that person had a will. However, this default can differ dramatically from what the person really would have wanted. Even where it is known what the person intended, no exceptions are made where no valid will exists. Nor are there any exceptions made based on need or special circumstances.
In Texas if a person dies without a will, the state of Texas has written a will for you. Texas Estates Code Provides as follows:
- If the decedent is unmarried, then his property passes to his descendants, that is his children or grandchildren.
- If the decedent is unmarried, and has no descendants, then his property passes to his parents if he has both parents survive him.
- If the decedent is unmarried, with no descendants and is survived by one parent and at least one sibling, then his property passes one-half to his surviving parent and one-half to his siblings or their descendants.
- If the decedent is unmarried, with no siblings or descendants and is survived by one parent, then his surviving parent inherits the entire estate.
- If the decedent is unmarried, with no siblings, parents or descendants, then his property passes to his siblings' descendants.
- If the decedent is unmarried and has no surviving descendants, parents, siblings or their descendants, then the estate is divided into two halves with one-half going to the decedent’s paternal grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc. and the other half to the maternal side.
- If the unmarried intestate has no surviving heir, the property will escheat to the state of Texas.
If the decedent is married, then his community property goes as follows:
- If married with no surviving descendants, then community property goes to his wife.
- If married with surviving children or their descendants, then if all of the decedents surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse will own all of the community property.
- If married with surviving children or their descendants, and one or some of the surviving children are not also descendants of the surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse retains one-half the community property the surviving spouse already owned and the descendants of the deceased spouse inherit the decedent’s one-half of the community property.
If the decedent is married, then his separate property goes as follows:
- The surviving spouse receives one-third of the deceased spouses’ separate personal property with the remaining two-thirds passing to the children or their descendants.
If the decedent is married, then his separate real estate goes as follows:
- The surviving spouse receives a life estate in one-third of the deceased spouse’s separate real estate. The remaining two-thirds and the remainder interest following the surviving spouse’s life estate passes to the deceased spouse’s children or their descendants.
- If a descendant is married with no surviving descendants, then all of his separate personal property passes to the surviving spouse.
- If there are no surviving descendants but there are surviving parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings, the surviving spouse inherits one-half of the separate real property with the remaining one-half passing to the parents, siblings, and descendants of siblings.
- If the decedent has no surviving descendants, parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings, the surviving spouse inherits all of the separate real property.
Call your Amarillo estate planning attorney today
Not sure how to ensure your estate planning is the best it can be for you and your loved ones? Don't worry. Many people have similar questions and go through the same line of questioning when deciding how to make their estate plan. It can be and often is critical that you get legal help understanding the basics of the estate planning process. The best way to get this understanding is to contact an experienced estate attorney near you. Stop and take a breath and call an Amarillo attorney who has had decades of experience. Pick up the phone and call Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett. Bill is your choice as an experienced estate planning attorney in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. Don’t waste another minute. Call him today.
Your most important action may end up being the phone call that you make to your Amarillo estate planning attorney lawyer. In the Texas Panhandle that call should be to Amarillo attorney Bill Cornett. Whether you need assistance with a will, administration of an estate or a contested probate, contact the Law Office of Bill Cornett. Be smart…remember these phone numbers (806) 374-9498
or (800) 658-6618.
Put Cornett Law Firm’s 47+ years of experience to work for you
Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney, with Cornett Law Firm offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer, probate attorney, family law attorney, criminal law attorney, DWI attorney and divorce attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.