Passing Away Without a Will: Intestate Succession in Texas

Passing Away Without a Will: Intestate Succession in Texas

As you enter your gray years or after you have accrued a noticeable sum of money and assets, you should think about creating a will as part of your estate plan. This legal tool will be invaluable to your loved ones as they figure out who gets what inheritances and how specific assets should be managed after you pass away. However, sometimes the opportunity to create a will comes and goes before one is actually drafted and signed. What happens then?

Texas Intestate Succession Laws

When a person passes away without create a will, it is known as intestate succession. Any asset or property that would have been included in a typical will can be subjected to Texas’s intestate succession laws. Anything that would not be covered in a will are not.

Some assets that probably won’t be affected by intestate succession are:

  • Property put into a trust
  • Finances gathered from life insurance policies
  • 401(k), IRA, and retirement funds
  • Bank accounts labeled “payable-on-death”
  • Real property held in joint tenancy

As far as everything else, the state will step in and distribute property and assets based on its own laws. This is clearly not an ideal situation as there is nothing personal about it. In many intestate succession proceedings, people are disgruntled to find that they did not inherit something they were certain would be deemed for them had a will been created.

Without a will, the following will happen to assets subject to state distribution law:

  • Child inherits everything: Decedent passes away with children but no living spouse, parent, or sibling.
  • Spouse inherits everything: Decedent passes away with spouse but no living child, parent, or sibling.
  • Parent inherits everything: Decedent passes away with parent but no child, spouse, or sibling.
  • Sibling inherits everything: Decedent passes away with sibling but no child, spouse, or parent.

Situations get more complicated as more surviving family members are added. If a decedent passes away with a spouse and children, for example, the spouse will gain all of the community property and one-third of the separate property, and all else will go to the children. Another example is passing away with a spouse and parents, in which the spouse inherits all community property, all separate property, and half of separate real estate, and parents get what is left.

As it can be seen, intestate succession benefits no one. Even if things work out in the end, it was merely by luck of the draw. Better to start planning now and avoid complications that will frustrate your loved ones after you are gone.

Contact Adams Law Firm to speak with a Katy probate and estate planning lawyer today.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

estate planning is not exactly the most popular topic around the dinner table. This obscurity has left many Americans in the dark about what estate planning really means and entails. When trying to actually form an estate planning, most people are going to wander somewhat aimlessly, opening the opportunity for making some commonly occurring mistakes.

Here’s the top five mistakes people make when creating an estate plan without legal guidance:

  1. Too young: Probably the most common mistake someone makes when it comes to estate planning is assuming they are “too young” to need one. The whole point of estate planning is making it easy for loved ones to handle your belongings and distribute your estate after you pass away. It might be a little unnerving but there is no telling when you will pass away, so you cannot be too young to require an estate plan. If you have children or a large estate, you definitely need to start thinking of making a plan, even if you are just in your 20s.
  2. Too small: Other than thinking you are too young to need an estate plan, another huge mistake is thinking that your estate is too small or valued too low. If you want to distribute certain inheritances to a certain loved one, you need to make a will or trust of some kind, even if you’re just thinking about a single heirloom, like a bracelet.
  3. One and done: Many people believe that having just a will covers every possible facet of estate planning; others think the same of living trusts. Both groups of people might be wrong, depending on their situation and estate. The wise move is checking with an estate planning attorney to see if there are any gaps in your will that could be improved with a trust, and vice versa.
  4. No revisions: As your life changes, you may also need to change your estate plan. People who complete one draft and lock it away for the rest of their lives are making a pretty big mistake. For example, imagine going through a divorce, not changing your estate plan, and your loved ones finding out your ex-spouse gets your home after you pass away. Probably not an ideal situation.
  5. No beneficiaries: People who do not have anyone they want to name as a beneficiary may mistakenly make no estate plan, thinking that no one will get their possessions after they pass away. This is incorrect. The state will distribute assets to relatives, close and distant, based on its laws. If no relatives can be identified, all of the property goes to the state to do as it pleases. If you have no relatives or no one you think deserves your estate, you may want to at least consider donating everything to charity.

Avoiding Those Mistakes, Preparing for the Future

It is understandable if you have made any of the aforementioned estate planning mistakes. As it was stated, they are quite common. If you want to correct or avoid them, all you need to do is contact Adams Law Firm. Our Katy estate planning attorneys can help you sort through your estate, create a functioning plan, and rest easy knowing you have handled something so important.

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