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Disinheriting a Spouse in Texas

You may have heard of parents disinheriting their adult sons and daughters in their wills, but what about spouses? Can they be disinherited in Texas? If it were an adult child, all someone has to do is intentionally omit their child from their will or trust, or state in their estate planning documents that they do not want a particular child to receive any portion of their estate. Spouses on the other hand, are a different story.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to desire to disinherit their husband or wife in their will. Sometimes, the motivation is because their spouse is wealthy and doesn’t need the money, or because the individual has children from a previous marriage and they prefer them to receive their assets.

Generally, it is not possible to completely disinherit a spouse in Texas, but there are alternatives. A handful of states, including Texas, are “community property” states, which generally means that property acquired during your marriage belongs to you and your spouse together regardless of who earned the income or whose name is on the title. However, you can distribute your half of the community or marital property to whomever you want through your will or trust.

What Are My Alternatives?

If someone wishes to fully disinherit their spouse in Texas, he or she can do it through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. For instance, if you are currently married and your spouse has no issues with receiving less than they are entitled to under the law, he or she can sign a postnuptial agreement waiving his or her rights to their share of specific property outlined in the agreement.

It’s important to note that if a spouse dies without a will, he or she is said to have died “intestate.” Under Texas’ intestate succession laws, in the absence of a will, trust, prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stating otherwise, a surviving spouse is automatically entitled to a certain share of their deceased spouse’s assets.