Why You Need a Will
When someone dies without a will, they are considered to have died intestate. The problem with this is that you and your family lose control over how your estate is divided and distributed after your death. Instead, the Texas courts will decide how your assets and property are divided and who they are distributed to. This can be very frustrating and stressful for many family members, and it is not guaranteed that the courts will distribute your estate to the people you wish it to go to.
The Probate Process in Texas
Probate is the process by which the courts legally recognize that someone has died and guides the administration or transfer of their estate to their heirs. However, not all estates and not all types of property are subject to probate. Depending on the size of the deceased person's estate, the type of property and assets the person owned, and how that property is classified, their estate may or may not have to go through probate.
The probate process can be long and costly, especially when someone dies without a will in place. Typically, the courts will appoint an attorney to investigate the possible heirs under the law, and the estate will be subject to court fees and the costs associated with the probate process. The cost of this process is taken directly out of the estate being probated.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of establishing a will and other helpful estate planning methods.
How the Texas Estates Code Affects Inheritance
Many people assume their estate will automatically be passed to those closest to them when they die. However, this is not always the case. Most estates will be subject to the Texas probate process, and inheritance will be guided by the Texas Estates Code § 201.
According to this code, if someone dies intestate and does not have a spouse, their estate will first pass to their children and their children's descendants, their parents, their siblings, or their next closest relative, in that order. In some cases, portions of the estate may be divided between relatives, as outlined by the law.
If someone dies intestate and is married, their estate will first be classified into separate and community property. From there, it will be passed to their surviving spouse and/or children and their children's descendants. While there are situations in which the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased's entire estate, it is not uncommon for both separate and community property to be divided and distributed among the surviving spouse and the deceased's descendants.
With so much at stake, it is not worth leaving things up to the state probate courts. With a will in place, you can control who your estate goes to, how it is divided, and who the estate's executor is. You also have the opportunity to name a guardian/s for any minor children. An established will can help you ensure that the people you want to take care of will receive the inheritance you want them to have.
How to Establish a Will
The first step to establishing a will is to reach out to a knowledgeable attorney, like ours at Hunt Law Firm. Our lawyers are well-versed in all aspects of estate planning, and we are prepared to help you draft a well-written, detailed will that fully outlines your wishes and which meets Texas requirements. Our law firm can also help you with other, related estate planning needs you may have, including changing beneficiaries, updating powers of attorney, and revoking a will as part of the divorce process.
Make 2022 the year you finally establish your last will and testament. Reach out to Hunt Law Firm online to schedule a consultation.