Texas residents might assume that their spouse will inherit everything after they die, regardless of whether they have a will. This might be the case in many other states, but it differs from state to state.
If you pass on without a will or estate plan in Texas, your belongings are distributed according to the intestate succession process. This can happen even if you have an estate plan if it’s not considered detailed enough.
How intestate succession process works
An intestate will divide your belongings into community property and separate property. Community property is anything that was acquired during the period of the marriage, so it’s considered jointly owned. The spouse would usually inherit anything that’s considered community property.
Separate property could be assets or accounts belonging to you, such as inheritance gifts, vehicles, investments, etc. The separate property would not automatically go to your spouse.
How separate property is passed down
The state will divide any separate property between your surviving spouse and your children, but not equally. Two-thirds of your property will go to your children, while the remainder goes to your spouse. Some things can impact how things are passed down. For example:
- If one or more children are not related to your surviving spouse, Texas will give some community property to your children instead of your spouse.
- Step-children are not entitled to receive anything from your estate if you don’t leave a will.
- Real estate property is immediately given to the surviving spouse and will then go to your children.
Downsides of not having a will
Estates that fall into intestate will take longer to process, which can add unnecessary court fees to your surviving family members. There are no guarantees that everyone will get treated fairly in this process.
It can also make an already emotional time even more stressful for your surviving family. Generally, a detailed estate plan can save both time and heartache.