You Can’t Take It With You: Wills And Intestate Succession In Texas

Death affects people in many ways. It is never timely, and immerses families in mourning. Often, there is a need to readjust, emotionally and financially, with an uncertain future.

An open discussion among family members and an estate plan can go a long way to prepare a surviving family for the future. However, many people wait until it is too late to have that frank talk or have a will drafted.

Avera Law Firm, P.L.L.C., provides understanding support and skilled legal guidance to individuals and families in Austin, Texas, and throughout the surrounding areas. Attorney Robert Avera provides the personalized attention you want for peace of mind about the future.

What If I Don't Have A Will?

There are distinct disadvantages if you or a loved one dies without a will or an estate plan in place. Dying without a will can tie up assets — possibly for years — leaving those left behind without the financial means to live. If payments to creditors and distribution of assets cannot be settled amicably, the court will have to step in, a process that can take years to resolve. Additionally, court costs and legal fees can quickly deplete what is left.

If you die intestate — without a will — in Texas, the state determines who will receive your assets through a distribution process referred to as intestate succession. The law does not play favorites, so the distribution is determined by how closely people are legally related to each other, not by their feelings for each other. Without a will, state laws determine who your heirs are, and your assets are disposed of according to whether the assets are community or separate property.

  • Separate property is that which is owned before marriage or acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance. Distribution of separate property depends on whether each item is real or personal property, and distributed shares vary according to the heir's relationship to you and your surviving spouse.
  • Community property is all property, other than separate property, which is acquired by either spouse during their marriage. Your surviving spouse has the right under Texas law to use and occupy the homestead during his or her life and may have the right to use or own certain items of personal property that are exempt from creditors' claims. In general, if all of your heirs are also heirs of your surviving spouse, all of the community property passes to that spouse. If you have children with someone else, the assets are split between your surviving spouse, your children and your grandchildren according to state law.

How Can A Will Help Me And My Family?

Texas recognizes three kinds of wills: oral, holographic (handwritten) and formal (typewritten). A well-drafted will helps you avoid legal pitfalls and family disputes as well as allowing you to:

  • Name the executor of your estate
  • Appoint a guardian for your minor children
  • Minimize or avoid estate tax liability
  • Minimize probate-related costs by providing for independent administration
  • Distribute your assets as you wish

If you do not have a will or have not recently updated your will, let us help you. Your will may need to be updated, especially if you have children, have changed your marital status or have acquired or sold property.

Call Now ~ Free Initial Consultation

Call Avera Law Firm, P.L.L.C., in Austin at 512-615-3578 to schedule a free initial consultation. You may also connect with us online.