When someone passes away and is a Texas resident, they die “intestate” if they have no will and testament at the time of their death. Every state has different regulations pertaining to wills and probate. Texas’ Probate Code, Title 2, Subtitle E, Chapter 201 determines the estate planning process for Texas residents. Here are some things to know if you or your loved ones live in Texas and need to prepare or update your will.
The probate process
During probate, the decedents beneficiaries have to prove to the court that the property distribution is fair. Any property the decedent owned, as well as their debts or bills, officially becomes part of the court-ordered estate planning process. The decedents debt is subtracted from the total value of their estate. Probate court costs can vary as well, and these fees can cut into the total amount beneficiaries can receive. It can take as long as two years to complete probate.
Survivors of the deceased
According to intestacy laws in Texas, if the decedent is survived by their spouse, children/grandchildren, siblings, or parents, their property will be divided depending on how connected the beneficiaries are to the decedent.
If the spouse and biological children are survivors, they will inherit all of the decedent’s community property, along with one-third of the decedent’s personal property. These decedents are able to use these resources for the rest of their lives and their children will inherit the remainder.
According to estate planning regulations, when the decedent is married and has stepchildren, the spouse will inherit one-third of the personal property and lifelong access to the decedent’s real estate. The stepchildren will inherit the remainder of the estate and can pass it on to their children. When the decedent has no children, their spouse is entitled to their entire estate if the decedent was married.