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The Challenges of Intestacy in Texas

 Posted on January 15,2024 in Estate Planning

TX estate lawyerDying without a will in place to see your assets distributed according to your wishes can create additional complexities in the probate process. For one, Texas state law will have to distribute your assets as it deems fit which can cause unforeseen problems among family and friends. Do not presume that a surviving spouse will automatically inherit your left-behind assets or that your children will benefit. To truly understand the depth of the legal landscape involving intestacy will require a professional, such as an experienced estate planning lawyer, to peel back the layers and provide comprehensive insight.

Dying Intestate

Dying intestate simply means that there was no will left after a person’s death detailing their desires and wishes for their estate, how it should be distributed, and who it should be distributed to. When dying without a will, Texas intestacy laws determine the fate of the estate on behalf of the recently departed. The intestacy rules are predefined and follow distribution based on a predetermined hierarchy that is specific to each jurisdiction, such as Denton County.


When a person dies, with or without a will, the probate court will settle their estate, debts, and asset distribution. Probate will also validate the authenticity of a person’s will and address the distribution according to how they interpret what is written in it. Dying intestate means that there is no will to follow, and as such places all determinations for assets, debts, and estate in the hands of Texas state law. However, an estate will normally only be probated depending on the property and size. Property that probate does not necessarily process includes:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Transfer on death deeds

Determining Heirs To The Estate

Intestate succession can be tricky, but there is a predetermined hierarchy involved. The first thing that must be done is to determine which assets of the estate are separate property and which assets are community property. Dying intestate without a spouse creates a sort of trickle-down effect. Without a spouse, the next in line would be the person’s children or their descendants where the estate is split among all surviving children.

Without children, a succession of estate passes down to the surviving parents of the deceased individual where assets are split evenly among father and mother. However, if only one parent remains, the assets are then split between that parent and the deceased individual’s surviving siblings where the parent receives a portion of half while the remaining portion is split evenly among the siblings. Without surviving siblings, the single parent inherits all of the assets. No parents but surviving siblings? Then the entire state is split evenly among them.

Contact a Denton County, TX Probate Attorney

The complexities only continue when determining heirs for community estate, separate estate, and inheritance. To have the legalities better explained to where you can fully understand them may require the help of an experienced Flower Mound, TX probate and estate administration lawyer. The Colbert Law Group PLLC is available to answer any questions you may have regarding matters of probate or estate. Contact the office for a discussion on your legal matters by dialing 972-724-3338.

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