Who inherits from an estate when someone dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Probate and Estate Administration

Estate planning is one of those personal responsibilities that many people find every excuse to delay. They might tell themselves they will wait until they have finished having children or until they buy a house. They may even determine that waiting until they approach retirement age is the best solution. However, not everyone lives as long as they expect, and a surprising number of adults in Texas may end up dying before they ever draft a legally enforceable will ensuring that specific people will inherit property from their estate.

Someone who has died without a will or similar document has died intestate, and their assets will be subject to intestate succession laws. What does that mean for their property and their loved ones?

Close family members inherit first

When someone drafts a will, they can choose their own beneficiaries and leave very specific instructions about what property each of their loved ones will receive. Otherwise, state law determined who inherits from their estate. The primary focus of the intestate succession laws in Texas is the protection of those who depend on someone else for financial support. Spouses and children will inherit everything from someone’s estate if someone dies while married or with direct progeny. Exactly how they split the assets will depend on whether the surviving spouse is also the parent of the children in the family.

If someone dies while unmarried and without children, then other close family members may inherit some of their property. Parents, siblings and even grandparents are among those with a statutory right of inheritance when someone dies without a spouse or children. More distant family members may have inheritance rights if there are no surviving immediate family members of someone who dies without a will.

For numerous people, including those in romantic relationships not yet formalized by marriage, intestate succession laws may not truly uphold their personal wishes and priorities. Therefore, taking the time to put together an estate plan will be the only way for those individuals to protect the people closest to them who they believe should inherit their property.

Learning more about the rules for estate planning and probate proceedings in Texas can be beneficial for those thinking about their long-term legacy and also for those who have recently lost a loved one.