Wealth and property are accumulated over the course of a lifetime, and when a Texas resident reaches the end of their life, they may have strong feelings about who their estate will go to when they die. Many individuals choose to execute estate plans, which can include wills, to help clarify their intentions for the disposition of their end of life possessions. The documents of an estate plan explain who has power to make decisions about the decedent’s estate and who may inherit from what they left behind.

Without an estate plan, though, there can be a lot of questions about what to do with a decedent’s wealth and property. Texas’s intestate succession laws apply in these cases and give probate courts and families instructions on how estates may be distributed. This post discusses intestate succession but does not provide any legal advice.

Death of an unmarried individual

When a person dies without a living spouse, their end of life estate can be passed both up and down their line of ancestors and descendants. For example, if the person dies with children then their estate will pass to their children. If they die without kids but their parents survive them, then their estate will pass to their parents. If a person passes without a spouse, kids, or parents, then their siblings may benefit from inheriting their end of life estate.

Death of a married individual

Intestate succession laws are a little different when a person dies while married. In Texas, the inheritance of property by a spouse can depend on the type of property subject to distribution. Property can be classified as real property, such as land, or personal property. In some cases, a spouse can inherit all of their deceased partner’s personal property but only proportional interests in their real property. The existence of children can complicate the distribution of an individual’s end of life assets when they have a spouse.

In the end, a person can create an estate plan to avoid these and other end of life complications with their wealth and property. A dedicated estate planning attorney can help them choose appropriate testamentary tools to protect their rights and interests.