Estate Planning

What Happens to My Property if I Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will or a trust, you might think you do not have an estate plan. However, everyone in Texas has an estate plan. It has been established by the State of Texas for those who have not planned in advance. But the results may surprise you. Most spouses expect that the other spouse will inherit all of the community property of the deceased spouse, but that is not the outcome according to the State of Texas when there are children from a prior marriage.

Spouses with children from prior marriages should be especially careful to plan ahead so that the estate is divided the way they intended. Under Texas law for intestate succession, if a wife dies who had children from a prior marriage, the surviving husband inherits 1/3 of the wife’s separate personal property, and the wife’s children inherit the other 2/3 of the wife’s separate personal property. The surviving husband receives a life estate to 1/3 of the wife’s separate real property, and her children inherit 2/3 of the wife’s separate real property immediately, and the wife’s children inherit the remaining 1/3 of the wife’s separate real property when the surviving husband dies. The surviving husband retains his 50% of the community property, but the wife’s children inherit the wife’s 50% of the community property.

When you die without your own estate plan in place, your assets pass under the laws of intestate succession. Under these laws, the distribution of your estate depends on whether you are married, have living children, parents, siblings, or other close relatives. The following charts demonstrate how the intestate succession statutes apply to different scenarios.

If you are single, and you die without a will, your property will be passed as follows:

If You Die, and You Have: Who Inherits Your Estate? Texas Estates Code
Children Your children inherit 100% of your estate § 201.001(b)
No children, but you have children’s descendants. Your children’s descendants inherit 100% of your estate § 201.001(b)
No children, no children’s descendants, but both parents are alive Each parent inherits 50% of your estate § 201.001(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, only one parent is alive, and you have siblings who are alive. The parent inherits 50% of your estate, and your siblings inherit the other 50% of your estate. § 201.001(d)(1)
No children, no children’s descendants, only one parent is alive, no siblings, but you have siblings’ descendants who are alive. The parent inherits 50% of your estate, and your siblings’ descendants inherit the other 50% of your estate. § 201.001(d)(1)
No children, no children’s descendants, only one parent is alive, no siblings, and no sibling’s descendants. The parent inherits 100% of your estate. § 201.001(d)(2)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, and you have siblings who are alive Your siblings inherit 100% of your estate § 201.001(e)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, but you have siblings’ descendants who are alive Your siblings’ descendants inherit 100% of your estate § 201.001(e)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, and no siblings’ descendants Your father’s side of the family inherits 50% of your estate, and your mother’s side of the family inherits the other 50% of your estate, as detailed below. § 201.001(f)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, no siblings’ descendants, but both paternal grandparents are alive Each paternal grandparent inherits 25% of your estate, and your mother’s side of the family inherits the other 50% of your estate.

§ 201.001(g)(1)

§ 201.001(h)

No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, no siblings’ descendants, only one paternal grandparent is alive, and the dead paternal grandparent has living descendants. The paternal grandparent inherits 25% of your estate, the dead paternal grandparent’s descendants inherit the other 25% of your estate, and your mother’s side of the family inherits the other 50% of your estate.

§ 201.001(g)(2)(A)

§ 201.001(h)

No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, no siblings’ descendants, only one paternal grandparent is alive, and the dead paternal grandparent has no living descendants. The paternal grandparent inherits 50% of your estate, and your mother’s side of the family inherits the other 50% of your estate.

§ 201.001(g)(2)(B)

§ 201.001(h)

No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, no paternal grandparents, but your paternal grandparent have living descendants. Your paternal grandparents’ descendants (such as your uncles, aunt, and cousins) inherit 50% of your estate; and your mother’s side of the family inherits the other 50% of your estate.

§ 201.001(g)(3)

§ 201.001(h)

If you are married, and you die without a will, your separate property will be passed as follows:

If You Die While Married and You Have: Who Inherits Your Separate Property? Texas Estates Code
Children

Your spouse inherits 1/3 of your separate personal property, and your children inherit the other 2/3 of your separate personal property.

Your spouse receives a life estate to 1/3 of your separate real property, your children inherit 2/3 of your separate real property immediately, and your children inherit the remaining 1/3 of your separate real property when your spouse dies.

§ 201.002(b)
No children, but you have children’s descendants.

Your spouse inherits 1/3 of your separate personal property, and your children’s descendants inherit the other 2/3 of your separate personal property.

Your spouse receives a life estate to 1/3 of your separate real property, your children’s descendants inherit 2/3 of your separate real property immediately, and your children’s descendants inherit the remaining 1/3 of your separate real property when your spouse dies.

§ 201.002(b)
No children, no children’s descendants, but both parents are alive.

Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, and your parents inherit the other 50% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, only one parent is alive, and you have siblings who are alive.

Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, your parent inherits 25% of your separate real property, and your siblings inherit the other 25% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, but you have siblings’ descendants who are alive

Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, your parent inherits 25% of your separate real property, and your siblings’ descendants inherit the other 25% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, only one parent is alive, no siblings, and no sibling’s descendants.

Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, your parent inherits the other 50% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, and you have siblings who are alive Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, your siblings inherit the other 50% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, but you have siblings’ descendants who are alive Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 50% of your separate real property, your siblings’ descendants inherit the other 50% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(c)
No children, no children’s descendants, no parents, no siblings, and no siblings’ descendants Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate personal property.

Your spouse inherits 100% of your separate real property.

§ 201.002(d)

If you are married, and you die without a will, the community property estate will be passed as follows:

If You Die With a Spouse and: Who Inherits Your Community Property? Texas Estates Code
No children or children’s descendants Your spouse retains her 50% of the community property and inherits your 50% of the community property. § 201.003(b)(1)
Children who are all children of your spouse Your spouse retains her 50% of the community property and inherits your 50% of the community property. § 201.003(b)(2)
No children, but you have children’s descendants who are all descendants of your spouse. Your spouse retains her 50% of the community property and inherits your 50% of the community property. § 201.003(b)(2)
Children, but not all of them are children of your spouse Your spouse retains her 50% of the community property.

Your children inherit your 50% of the community property.

§ 201.003(c)
No children, you have children’s descendants but not all of them are descendants of your spouse. Your spouse retains her 50% of the community property.

Your children’s descendants inherit your 50% of the community property.

§ 201.003(c)

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Willi Law Firm, P.C.
9600 Escarpment Blvd.
Ste. 745, PMB 34
Austin, TX 78749-1983

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The attorneys at Willi Law Firm are your Austin, Texas resource for estate planning, wills, living trusts, firearms trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, probate and estate administration, trust administration, special needs trusts, disability planning, Medicaid applications and qualification, long-term care planning, elder law, Medicaid crisis planning, charitable planning, estate tax planning, business and corporate planning, business succession and sales, and asset protection.

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