Who inherits property if there is no will?

I get this question a lot and it’s an important thing to know. If a person dies without a will then the person is considered to be intestate. Here is the law on intestate inheritance in Texas.

First I am going to start with an unmarried person. Their property will go in equal shares to their descendants. This means that their property will go to their children, then grandchildren, then grate grandchildren, and so on. If any one of the descendants is deceased then their descendants will take their portion.

If they do not have living children or other descendants their property is split in half with one half going to each of their parents. If one or both of their parents are deceased, then the deceased parent’s portion passes to the nearest living person on that side of the family.

If the person was married then the property will have to be characterized first as either community or separate. While characterization can be several blog posts by it self for now it will suffice to say that separate property is all property acquired before marriage and property acquired after marriage by gift or inheritance, and everything else is community.

If its community it all goes to the surviving spouse, unless the deceased spouse had a child from a person other than their surviving spouse. If that is the case then the surviving spouse gets half of the community i.e. they keep their half, and half goes to the deceased spouse’s children.

If the deceased spouse had a child or other descendants, the surviving spouse gets one-third of the personal property i.e. everything that is not land and the rest of the personal property goes to their children or their descendants. The surviving spouse also receives a life estate in one-third of the real property, with remainder to the children or their descendants.

If the deceased spouse did not have children or other descendants the surviving spouse shall get all the personal property, and one-half of the real property, and the other half goes to their parents, if one or both of their parents are deceased then the deceased parents portion passes to the nearest living person on that side of the family. However, if the deceased spouse has neither a surviving parent nor surviving siblings, then the surviving spouse gets all the property.

But before the formula can be applied the court will have to appoint an attorney for the unknown heirs and hold a hearing to see if there are any unknown heirs. Then the surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to receive the homestead, all of the exempt property, and as much money as is necessary to maintain them in the life style that they are accustom to for one year before the remaining property is split according to the law of intestate succession.

If you have any questions about what happens when a person dies and there is no will email me at chris@jguerralawfirm.com.

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