Dying without a Will can make the probate process lengthy and expensive. Additionally, if you die without a Will, you are considered to have died “intestate” and the Texas intestacy laws of descent and distribution will dictate how your estate will be distributed to your heirs (your spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.). Essentially, Texas law provides a default Will for you…but it is often not what you would have chosen yourself. This can be especially true if you have a blended family and children from outside of your current marriage.
To determine who your legal heirs are, an interested party (usually an heir) will need to petition the Court to determine who your legal heirs are. This process is commonly referred to as an “heirship proceeding.” If there is a need to administer your estate, such as to distribute your assets to the rightful heirs, pay your debts, etc., then an interested person will also need to petition the Court to be appointed as the personal representative of your estate. Once appointed, the personal representative will “step into your shoes” and manage your estate as required by Texas law. The heirship proceeding and appointment of a personal representative for an “intestate” estate involves appointment of a court appointed attorney and strict oversight by the probate court all of which increases costs and lengthens the time required to distribute the assets of the estate.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC