Texas Inheritance Laws Without a Will

By Wayne Thomas

A will is an important part of ensuring that your property is distributed according to your wishes after your death. If you die without a will in Texas, your property will be divided based on a set of probate rules that prioritize heirs based on their legal relationship to you. If you leave a surviving spouse, the amount she will be entitled to will depend on how the property is classified, and whether you left any children.

Overview of Intestacy

Texas residents who are at least 18 years old and mentally competent are eligible to make a will. A will gives you the freedom to determine who will receive your property after death. If you die without a will, your property will pass according to Texas law, which is inflexible and may conflict with how you intended your property to pass. This process is known as intestate succession, and the rules place priority on the surviving spouse, then children, followed by siblings and parents.

Community Property

If you are married and die without a valid will in Texas, the amount of property your spouse will receive will depend on how the property is classified and if you have any children. Property that was acquired by you and your spouse during the marriage is referred to as community property, and will pass entirely to your spouse if you have no children, or if your children are also your spouse's children. If you have children and they are not your spouse's, your spouse will be entitled to one-half of the community property interest, and the other half will be divided equally between the children.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now

Separate Personal Property

Property that you acquired before marriage is treated differently in Texas. This is referred to as separate property, and the law makes a distinction between personal property and real estate. If you have no children or other descendants, your surviving spouse is entitled to all of your separate personal property. If you have children or other descendants, your surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of your separate personal property and your children will share the remaining two-thirds.

Separate Real Property

If you have real estate and children, your surviving spouse is entitled to a one-third interest in the property during her lifetime. The remaining two-thirds passes immediately to your children and the other one-third will pass to the children upon the death of your spouse. If you have no children or other descendants, but have surviving parents or siblings, your spouse is entitled to a one-half interest in the separate real property and your parents and siblings will share in the other half.

No Surviving Spouse

Texas law provides that your children or their descendants inherit all of your property if you have no will and are unmarried at the time of death. However, the exact share each will be entitled to depends on the degree of relationship. If all of your children are alive, they will share in the estate equally. Deceased children still receive their share, but the assets pass to their children in equal shares. For example, if you had three children, but only two are living at the time of your death, they would each be entitled to one-third of the estate. The remaining one-third would be split equally between the children of your deceased child.

File a DBA for your business online. Get Started Now
Dying Without a Will in the State of Utah


Related articles

Dying Without a Will in Delaware

You may have preferences as to which family member or friend receives your property after your death and those wishes are typically expressed through a will. However, if you die without a will, called dying intestate, state law will decide how your property is distributed. State law also dictates the process by which your property is distributed, which is known as probate. Just like every other state, Delaware has intestacy and probate laws in case one of its residents dies without a will.

Can I Keep My Assets Separate From My Wife in a Will?

When you undertake estate planning, you may not want to transfer assets to your wife. The degree to which you may want to deny assets to your wife upon your death may vary. You may only want to keep certain assets from your wife so that your children receive them because those goods mean more to them. On the other hand, you may not want to leave your wife anything at all. If you are married at the time of your death, your wife generally has a right to a portion of your estate. You can leave specific assets to other beneficiaries. The degree to which you can keep your wife from inheriting your assets depends on the state in which you live.

The Definition of an Heir in California Probate

In California, the term "heir" is defined in the state's probate code. Heirs are people who are entitled to inherit a deceased person's property. California, like other states, has laws that explain who may receive an inheritance when a person dies without a last will and testament. These laws are called "laws of intestate succession," and when a person dies without a will, it is referred to as dying "intestate."

Related articles

Transfer of Property After Dying Without a Will in Washington State

A will is your opportunity to leave final instructions for your loved ones, and it can address issues like guardianship ...

Texas Laws Concerning the Inheritance of a Husband & Wife

Texas laws on inheritances are detailed, governing topics such as whether an inheritance you receive while you are ...

California Probate Law & Next in Line Inheritance

If you die intestate in California – without leaving a will – probate law meets community property law. The state steps ...

Arkansas Inheritance Laws

In Arkansas, a resident can make a valid will if he's at least 18 years old and mentally competent. Arkansas law also ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED