Texas Probate Laws & Homestead Rights for an Unmarried Child

By Heather Frances J.D.

If your family depends on you for support, your death may be especially hard on them because they will lose your financial support in addition to losing someone they love. The home your family lives in, called a homestead, may be financially protected after your death. Texas provides special rules that may protect your home from being seized and sold to pay your debts after your death, saving your unmarried children from being forced from their home.

Qualifying as a Homestead

Your property will not qualify for homestead protections unless it meets Texas’s homestead definition. For urban locations, this means it must be a home or home and business and must not have more than 10 acres of land. For rural locations, a family homestead is 200 acres or less and a single adult homestead is 100 acres or less. Homesteads include improvements, such as buildings, located on the land. Property may be classified as a family homestead even if the family is atypical, such as a grandmother caring for her grandson, as long as you support that family and they depend on you.

Creditor Protection

If your land qualifies as homestead property, Texas provides two different types of protections: protection from creditors’ claims and protection of the right of occupancy. Protection from creditor claims is automatic if you were using and occupying the property at the time of your death. Except for seven specific exceptions, such as a purchase-money mortgage on the property itself, your homestead is not liable for payments of any debts of the estate. This means your homestead cannot be sold to pay your credit card debt, for example, even if that means your estate does not have enough money to pay that creditor.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Right of Occupancy

Homestead property also carries the right of occupancy, meaning your spouse and your minor children have the right to live on that property regardless of what your will says. This right is separate from creditor protection and terminates when your spouse dies, sells her interest in the homestead or abandons the homestead. Your minor children have this occupancy right, too, but their rights terminate when they are no longer minors.

Unmarried Adult Children

Your surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to protection from creditors’ claims against your homestead property as well as the right of occupancy. However, adult unmarried children living on your homestead property are only protected from creditors’ claims. Thus, if you do not have a surviving spouse or minor children and leave your homestead property to your unmarried adult child living with you, he will inherit it free and clear of creditors’ claims. If you leave it to someone else, he does not have the right to continue to live there since he has no right of occupancy.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Is a Family Allowance Under Florida Probate Law?

References

Related articles

Does a Quitclaim Deed Pass to the Heirs?

When a person dies, a significant portion of his property passes through the probate process to be divided and distributed among the decedent’s heirs. Traditionally, an heir was a surviving spouse or relative who received property under the state’s intestacy provision. Intestacy only takes effect when there is no valid will. However, the modern definition of an heir includes anyone who receives property from an estate, whether through intestacy or a will bequest. The ownership rights of the heirs, including property that was acquired by the decedent through a quitclaim deed, depends on the circumstances of the transfer.

Can a Wife Be Left Out of a Will in Texas Probate?

Texas law allows you to completely cut your spouse out of your will, but only with regard to those assets you control, considered yours to devise in your will. Because Texas is a community property state, your spouse will still be entitled to a share of the combined marital property and to live in the marital home, even if you try to completely disinherit her.

Can a Bankruptcy Trustee Take Possession of a Home From a Lender?

Bankruptcy can give you a fresh financial start, but under Chapter 7 bankruptcy procedures, a court-appointed trustee can take some of your property and sell it to pay your creditors. Since creditors are primarily interested in getting paid, your bankruptcy trustee may be able to take your house, sell it and pay off your debts with the money from the sale. Alternatively, your lender might be able to regain possession of the home for sale to satisfy your mortgage debt.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Can a Girlfriend Take Over an Estate if No Will Was Left?

A girlfriend cannot take over an estate if her male companion dies without leaving a will. State laws determine who ...

Can a Creditor Put a Lien on Property If Chapter 13 is Dismissed?

The primary reason you likely sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection is to protect your property from foreclosure or ...

Chapter 7 Exemption Limitations in Florida

You must file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with a federal court, and federal law generally applies. However, Florida ...

Maine Statutes on Inheritance of a Surviving Spouse

A surviving spouse's inheritance in Maine depends on various factors, including whether the deceased spouse has ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED