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What Happens If I Die Without an Estate Plan in Texas?

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

Texas estate planning lawyerLosing a close family member is always difficult, no matter what. Administrating a family member’s estate can be emotionally challenging even if they had a strong estate plan and the administration can be carried out smoothly. When there is no estate plan, the difficulty level can skyrocket for the surviving family members. During a period of grief, they will have the added stress of trying to sort out the estate without the decedent’s guidance.

In Texas, when a person passes away without an estate plan, their estate must go through a process called intestate probate. Essentially, in the absence of an estate plan, state law determines who should receive what. While the intestacy structure is designed to approximate what you probably would have wanted, there is no guarantee that this reflects your actual wishes. This is one of many reasons that estate planning is important for everyone. 

How Does Intestate Probate Work in Bexar County?

Probate is a much-dreaded process even when the decedent left a will and there are no disputes. It can be time-consuming and costly. Intestate probate can be even more complicated. The court will need to appoint a personal representative, and it might not be the person you personally would have chosen. 

There will need to be a complete accounting of your estate. Everyone who might possibly have an interest in your estate will be notified. The probate court has no way of knowing whether you are on good terms with all these individuals, and the odds of litigation can increase. 

The next step is to figure out who your heirs are and how your estate should be divided up. There is an increased chance that some of your real estate or personal property might be sold off in order to evenly distribute your assets. 

Who Will Probably Inherit Under Intestacy?

Texas law gives precedent to your surviving spouse and children, if any. From there, it can get complicated. The way an estate will be divided between them depends on several things, including whether your children are also your spouse’s children. If you have neither, your parents or surviving parent typically inherit your entire estate. 

From there your possible heirs branch out to include your siblings, nieces, and nephews. Unlike many other states, Texas will allow more distant relatives to inherit through intestacy if no closer relatives exist. 

Contact a Texas Estate Planning Lawyer

Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law can help you build a strong estate plan so that you can make your own decisions about how your property should be distributed to your survivors. Our skilled Bexar County estate planning attorneys will custom design the plan you need. Call 210-535-0870 to start with a free consultation. 



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