What is a Will?
A will is a legal document outlining who a person’s assets will be distributed after their death. While recipients may include a spouse or family member, a will may also name a church or other organization to inherit money or property. A will should also specify a guardian for any minor children. When referring to a will, the person creating the will is called the testator. Once deceased, the person is referred to as the decedent.
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Will Before I Die?
If you die without preparing a will, what happens will depend on your state’s intestate succession process. Most states will split your estate between your spouse and your children, if applicable. If you are unmarried and without children, your closest relatives would receive your property. If you have no relatives, your property will be remanded to the state.
Who Will Get My Property If I Die Without A Will?
Each state’s law of intestate succession governs inheritance rights. In many states, if the decedent was married, the property will go to the spouse. Next in line would be children, followed by the closest blood relative. If the decedent has no legal relative, the estate will become the property of the state.
Can I Exclude My Spouse From My Will?
You cannot exclude a spouse from a will if you live in a community property state. Community property means that each spouse is entitled to half of anything acquired during the marriage. You may, however, leave your half of the estate to someone other than your spouse.
In common law states, on the other hand, a spouse can be excluded from a will. However, there are laws in place in these states to prevent the complete disinheritance of a spouse. A spouse has the right to ask the court for a portion of the estate.
Can I Choose A Guardian To Care For Minor Children In My Will?
A personal guardian for any minor children can be designated in a will if both parents are deceased, or if the surviving parent is left unable to care for them. This guardian will remain the legal guardian of the children until they are 18 years old. If a person with minor children dies without a will, the state will decide who to appoint as guardian of both the children and any inheritance they may receive.
What If I Want To Change My Will?
Wills can be revised through additions called codicils. If the changes to be made are many or major, though, it may be a better choice to draft a completely new will. It is important to state in each new will that the testator wishes to revoke all prior wills.
What Happens After I Sign My Will?
Once your final will has been signed, simply keep it in a safe place. Let whoever will be executing your will know where it is located. It is not necessary to file a will with the court. Some courts do allow testators to deposit their wills with them for safekeeping.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process of the court overseeing the execution of a will. While this will ensure that taxes and debts are paid, it can be time-consuming and costly. After you die, your estate will go through probate, unless you plan ahead to avoid it. If you use other ways to transfer your property (such as trusts, transfer-on-death deeds, or property ownership with rights of survivorship) rather than a will, you can avoid probate altogether.
For more information on Wills In The State Of Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 288-3200 today.