What happens if your parent dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2023 | Probate |

Most adults in Texas have the option of creating an estate plan, but not everyone makes use of that right. Many people procrastinate by telling themselves they will create an estate plan in the future when the need is more pressing. Others tell themselves they don’t need an estate plan because their family will handle the distribution of their property.

Maybe your parents simply never got around to creating an estate plan, or maybe they refused to create testamentary documents. If your parents die without a will, what will that mean for you and your siblings?

Texas law determines what happens with the property

To a certain extent, those who refuse to create a will because the state will oversee their property distribution are correct. They don’t need a will to ensure that their family members inherit their property. If someone dies without a will or other estate planning documents, their property will end up distributed among their closest family members.

Texas intestate succession laws serve to protect the rights of those closest to the deceased individual. The spouse and children of the person who dies are the people with the strongest rights, and they will inherit any property not required to pay debts or taxes.

Exactly how they split the estate will depend on whether the surviving spouse is a parent or stepparent to the children in the family. The probate courts can oversee intestate succession, which can be beneficial when there is valuable property and multiple potential beneficiaries. You and your siblings, as well as your surviving parent or stepparent, will have to collect, value and fairly divide the property in accordance with state law.

A loss of control is a good reason to create estate planning documents

Most people do not like the idea of the government deciding who receives their property when they die. If people understand the limitations of intestate succession rules, they may be more proactive about planning their estates and controlling their own legacies.

Talking to your parents about what happens if they die without an estate plan might motivate them to take action, and learning your rights in probate court can help you if they do die without any documents describing their wishes.