| Read Time: 4 minutes | Estate Planning
what happens if you die without a will in texas

In many cases, this is what happens if you die without a will in Texas: complications and conflicts. Even more disturbing is that the state ends up determining what happens to your estate rather than you.

When you have no will in Texas, you provide no definitive legal assurance regarding what your wishes are, and you give your loved ones no legal right to carry out even the wishes they are sure of.

Dying intestate in Texas can and should be avoided by all adults, including those who are part of young families.

Why You Should Have a Will

A will is an essential part of an estate plan. When an estate planning lawyer creates your will, they do so after meeting with you and learning about your family and assets. They create a legally binding document—a will—that speaks for you beyond the grave.

In this document, you state how your property and assets will be distributed. It can also address issues of care and support for your minor children. 

A will can be very specific. In some cases, you may wish to be sure that you exclude a certain person from receiving anything through your estate.

For example, say you have an estranged parent you fear will incorrectly argue that you promised them certain items. Your will can clearly state that you are intentionally leaving them out of the will and that you wish to leave them nothing.

In other situations, you may have a partner to whom you are not married. Your lawyer will know that Texas intestate succession laws will exclude them from inheriting your property.

As a result, they will make sure that your will, which will supersede dying intestate laws, clearly provides for your beloved partner.

For a young family with kids, you and the child’s other parent may find that one of the most important parts of your will is providing for the child’s care if either or both of you pass away.

What happens if you die without a will in Texas along with your child’s other parent? You leave with no legally clear statement of whom you wish to raise your children.

Dying with no will in Texas leaves your estate without important protections you could have provided by creating a will. The court will deem you as dying intestate in Texas.

At that point, the state law, not you, determines what happens with your estate. Regardless of age, health, income, etc. you should have a will.

What Are Texas Intestate Laws?

Texas intestate succession laws provide a road map of what happens to the estate of someone who dies without a will.

The Texas Estate Code, which addresses intestate succession law, states that spouses and children, parents, and siblings inherit, in that order. There are breakdowns regarding percentages for each group, based on which parties are alive when you pass away.

An Example of Intestate Succession Laws

To provide an understanding of what happens if you die without a will in Texas and how the courts use intestate laws, consider this scenario. A young adult with a partner passes away suddenly and unexpectedly. They leave no will, and their partner is not their legal spouse or domestic partner.

They have been with their partner for over 5 years. They were extremely close to their youngest of 3 younger siblings. They had not spoken to or had any relationship with their other two siblings in years, after a falling out. Their parents are no longer alive.

The partner and sibling with whom they were very close believe in all sincerity that the deceased would have wanted the two of  them to have their personal belongings and possessions. They further agree that the person would have given a sizable amount of their financial estate to a charity close to their heart.

However, because the person died with no will in Texas, this does not happen. Texas intestate succession law provides that the siblings would receive equal measures of the estate. The partner and charity would receive nothing. But the two siblings the person was not speaking with would each receive one-third of the estate.

Special Consideration for Young Families Without a Will

If you are a young family, what happens if you die without a will in Texas is that you do not protect your family or provide clear intentions of your wishes regarding your belongings.

Instead, you put those you love in the unfortunate, costly, and time-consuming process of having to wade through court and bow to Texas intestate succession laws.

Yes, these laws provide assistance to some family members. However, Texas intestate succession laws are not enough. For instance, while the Texas estate code which contains intestate circumstances addresses children, it does not fully protect them.

Young families with wills often also create trusts, guardianships, and other protections for their families. These additional important protections are not fully covered by intestate laws.

Your estate attorney can help you adjust your will as you face any of life’s milestones. They can update your will for changes and desires related to: 

  • Marriage,
  • Committing to a long term domestic partner, 
  • The birth or adoption of a child,
  • Providing care for an elderly parent or disabled sibling,
  • Plans regarding home and property ownership, and
  • Leaving gifts for close friends or charities you grow to deeply care about.

Without a will, your wishes may not be carried out once you die. This will be the case even if you made those wishes clear in conversations with those you love.

So what happens if you die without a will in Texas? Don’t make your family and loved ones find out. Work with a lawyer now and get a will.

One of the most important adult decisions a young family can make is to work with a trusted estate planning law firm to avoid the court applying intestate succession laws to their young family.

Massingill: Austin, Texas Estate Planning Attorneys

The attorneys at Massingill can help you organize your affairs in the event of your untimely death.

We are compassionate and aware that this is a complex, difficult, and emotional topic. You will find that we always have your best interest at heart and are available to patiently address all of your cares and concerns.

Contact us today for help. Our team is standing by to discuss your situation. Call our office directly at 512-601-6591 to speak with a representative right away.

Author Photo

Joshua Massingill

Joshua Massingill is an attorney practicing in Austin, Texas. He serves on the Texas State Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee, the Leander Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) Board of Directors, and the Success-Werx Board of Advisors. He mentors young entrepreneurs in Leander ISD’s INCubatorEDU program and is active in his church.

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