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Dying intestate: an overview


You’ve likely heard that you have to have a will to ensure your assets are protected when you pass away. If you pass away without a will, you won’t have any control over the assets you leave behind. Preparing your will can be an emotional task. However, if you die intestate, or without a will, this can have a negative impact on your heirs. If you’re a Texas resident, here are some important things you should know about wills & probate.

What is intestate?

People who die intestate do not have a will before they die. In these cases, the state will take responsibility for dividing the deceased’s assets among their descendants in probate in court. The laws of intestate when it comes to wills & probate vary depending on whether the decedent had children, was married, and which assets they possessed.

Intestate succession

Intestate succession is the set of mandates that determines who receives what when it comes to the decedent’s assets. The state will define intestate heirs according to their relationship to the deceased individual. Usually, the spouse is first, followed by the decedent’s children. Usually, grandchildren or other distant relatives will inherit any assets of the decedent’s spouse and children are still alive.

If the decedent was not married and did not have any children, the decedent’s parents and siblings are next in line to receive assets. If these family members are no longer living, the decedent’s aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews may be entitled to assets.

How probate court handles intestate estates

When someone passes away and has a will, they have assigned an executor. The executor is someone who will oversee how the assets are distributed. When someone dies without a will, the wills & probate court will assign an administrator to distribute the person’s assets.

The court-appointed executor will pay any remaining debts and give the remainder of the money or assets to the beneficiaries of the deceased. The administrator will also try to contact the deceased’s relatives to ensure the assets are going to the right people. Beneficiaries will differ depending on the laws of the state.