Executing a will allows people to control how their property will be passed along after they die. Because wills cost time and money to make, individuals often wonder what would happen if they died without one. If somebody does die without a will, they have no control over how their property passes to other people. Instead, their property is distributed according to a statutory formula created by the State of Texas. An experienced attorney can help you.
Dying without a will is called dying “intestate.” When someone dies intestate, their property will be passed along according the rules of intestate succession, set out in Chapter 201 of the Texas Estates Code. A probate court will be responsible for applying the rules of intestate succession, and they will generally begin by classifying all of the decedent’s property as either real or personal, and as either community or separate.
After classifying a decedent’s property, the probate court will determine the decedent’s heirs – this generally includes surviving spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Depending on how the property is classified and what heirs are available, a decedent’s property may pass to any or all of these people. Non-spouse significant others, friends, and step-children are generally not considered to be heirs, and they will not inherit the property of someone who dies without a will.
Because a probate court will have to classify property, locate heirs, and apply the rules of intestate succession, dying without a will can lead to a long and expensive probate process. The costs of probate will be paid out of the estate, meaning that there may be little left to inherit by any heirs the court finds. Although making a will does not avoid the probate process altogether, it can make the process simpler and less expensive, and it allows for more control over how the property is passed on.
If you are considering executing a will and would like to learn more about your options, please contact Kirker|Davis today.