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What Happens When You Die With No Estate Plan?

 Posted on May 08, 2024 in Estate Planning and Administration

TX estate plan lawyerDying without an estate plan in place is called intestacy. This is a situation best avoided, as the consequences for your heirs can be problematic. With no will and no trust controlling your assets, you have no control over who inherits your property. When the decedent fails to decide within his lifetime who should inherit his property, the state of Texas steps in and decides for him. The goal of Texas’s intestacy laws is to approximate what the decedent probably would have wanted to happen to his property. However, the Texas legislature cannot consider anyone’s unique circumstances, family relationships, or personal goals and wishes. To prevent this unfortunate situation, you will need to work with a Cleburne, TX estate planning attorney to create a will, trust, or both.

How is an Intestate Estate Administered in Texas? 

Probate is the only option for administering an intestate estate. Most people who plan their estates are able to avoid probate entirely by using a trust or transfer on death instruments. Probate is a complicated and often time-consuming legal process overseen by a court. There may be significant taxes and court fees associated with probate that could diminish the size of your estate.

An executor will need to be appointed by the probate court. This will most likely be one of your closest family members - if there are any close family members you would not trust to administer your estate, you should name someone else in your estate plan. Your appointed executor will likely need to pay a bond, meaning she must put up property of her own to be held by the court until she has successfully handled your estate.

Who Inherits My Property if I Do Not Have an Estate Plan? 

Texas intestacy laws dictate who inherits what share of your estate if you fail to decide this within your lifetime. Generally, your spouse and your children inherit all or almost all of your property. If you have a spouse but no children or children but no spouse, the one you do have is likely to inherit most of your estate. However, if your parents are alive, they may also be entitled to an intestate share.

Other possible relatives who might inherit include your brothers or sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, or nephews. If you have no living family members, your property may “escheat,” meaning it goes to the state.

Contact a Tarrant County Estate Planning Lawyer 

Cain & Kiel Law is committed to helping people avoid intestacy by creating estate plans. Our experienced Cleburne, TX estate planning attorneys work as a team to design the strongest plans possible. Contact us at 817-645-1717 for a confidential consultation.

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