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What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Will in Texas?

 Posted on October 17, 2022 in Estate Planning

san Antonio estate planning lawyerA last will and testament can be a crucial aspect of estate planning. A person's will details how their assets should be distributed among their heirs after their death, and it may allow for different items to be allocated to people such as their spouse, children, or other relatives or people who are important to them. However, some may believe that having a will is not necessary because they do not own extensive assets, and they may expect their property to simply be divided among their close family members. It is important to understand how the distribution of assets would be handled in these situations. This can illustrate the importance of creating a will that will help a family avoid uncertainty or legal disputes about how assets should be divided.

Intestate Succession in Texas

If a person dies without a will in Texas, their assets will go to their closest living relatives through a process called intestate succession. In Texas, the laws of intestate succession are somewhat complex, and they may differ depending on whether a person was married or single, whether they had any children, or whether they were survived by parents or siblings. 

If a person was married, their spouse will usually assume full ownership of any community property the couple owned together. However, if the person had children with someone other than their spouse, the spouse will retain ownership of half of the community property, and the other half of the community property will go to those children. 

If a person was married and had children, their separate property, including assets they owned before they were married and inheritances they received, will be divided among their spouse and children. The spouse will receive one third of these assets, and the other two thirds will go to their children. If the person did not have children, their spouse will receive half of their separate property, and the other half will be divided among relatives such as their parents or siblings.

If a person was unmarried and had children, their estate will be divided equally among their children. If they did not have children, their assets will be divided among their parents, siblings, or other more distant relatives.

The Importance of Having a Will

Although the laws of intestate succession can ensure that a person's assets will be divided among their heirs, there are still many good reasons to have a will. First and foremost, a will provides a person with the opportunity to choose who will inherit their assets after they die. Otherwise, assets may not be divided in the way that the person would have wanted. 

Second, a will allows a person to appoint a guardian for their minor children. If a person dies without a will, their children's guardian will be appointed by the court. The court's priority is always the welfare of the child, however, the guardian selected by the court may not be someone the parent would have chosen. 

Finally, a will allows a person to appoint someone to handle their affairs after they die (called an "executor" or "personal representative"). If a person dies without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle their estate. The administrator may not be someone the person would have selected to handle these issues. 

Contact Our San Antonio Estate Planning Lawyers

Dying without a will in Texas is not advisable. To ensure that your wishes will be followed correctly after your death, it is important to have a will in place. At The Law Office of Ryan C. Moe, PLLC, our experienced San Antonio last will and testament attorneys can help ensure that have the proper plans in place that will accomplish your goals. To get started with your estate plan, call us at 210-861-6000 and schedule a consultation.


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