What Is Texas Intestacy Law?
Intestacy refers to dying intestate, which means dying without a will. When intestacy occurs, the estate must go through probate and the court decides how to distribute assets to heirs based on state laws.
Who inherits based on intestacy laws?
“Intestate succession” is the legal term used for passing assets to heirs based on intestacy. The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) explains in easily understood terms how intestate succession works, including examples of various situations. One factor that influences intestacy succession is whether the property is community or separate property. Community property is property owned by both the decedent and the surviving spouse. It passes differently than separate property, which is property the decedent owned separately. Community property passes in the following manner:
- When the deceased spouse’s surviving children are also the descendants of the surviving spouse, all community property passes to the surviving spouse.
- When the deceased spouse’s surviving children are not also the surviving spouse’s children, half the property passes to the spouse and half passes to the children.
- When there is no surviving spouse, the court considers the decedent’s property to be separate and not community property, and the property goes to the children and is divided equally among them.
Separate property is subject to different distribution. Distribution of separate property depends on whether the assets are real estate or personal property. With personal property, one third passes to the spouse and two thirds pass to the children or descendants of deceased children (grandchildren). However, with real estate, such as a homestead, one third of the real estate passes as a life estate to the surviving spouse. A life estate allows the spouse to use the one third of the property during the spouse’s lifetime and upon the spouse’s death, full title to the property passes to the children or grand children.
Consult an experienced attorney about your estate planning goals
Mr. Henderson is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a family law specialist and he has also served as a judge. He offers clients more than 30 years of legal experience. At Kevin Henderson, Attorney at Law, we enjoy working with people and guiding them through complicated legal matters.