How do you handle a loved one’s estate if they have no will?

| Nov 25, 2020 | Probate and Estate Administration

Serving as the executor of someone’s estate can be challenging in even the best of circumstances. When you have secondary issues, like the lack of a last will for the estate, the situation becomes much more difficult to manage.

You may be hoping to handle things quickly, only to realize that you have no choice but to go through the probate courts with all of the complications that process represents. How do you properly manage an estate in Texas when your loved one passed on without an estate plan or last will?

You will have to inform the probate courts of the situation

When someone dies without a last will, their estate is subject to state intestate succession laws. Texas has established legal code that explains exactly how to distribute the assets from someone’s estate if they didn’t leave instructions regarding their legacy.

Although some estates can bypass probate administration, estates without a last will will likely have to go through court to ensure everything is done in compliance with the law.

The closest family members will have the strongest claim to the estate

Intestate succession law in Texas favors dependent family members. In Texas, the law specifically aims to protect the rights of spouses and children. A surviving spouse will receive at least half of the community property held by their spouse, as well as at least a third of their separate property. Depending on whether the deceased has children and if they are from a previous marriage, the remaining resources may end up split with the children.

Parents can also claim some of the separate property of a deceased child in an intestate succession scenario. Siblings and other family members may have a claim if there are no closer dependents or surviving parents. In rare circumstances where there are no legal or biological relatives around to claim the value of the estate, an intestate estate might eventually become the property of Texas itself.

If you need to handle an intestate estate yourself, talking with the lawyer about the right steps to take can protect you from mistakes that could have legal and financial ramifications for you and the members of the deceased family.