In a perfect world, everyone would die with a will. Not only does it make it easier on the family, but it also guarantees that the decedent’s property goes to the people they want it to go to. Unfortunately, a lot of people have died without a will. This is what is meant by the word intestate.
Intestate means to die without a will. When this happens, the Probate Court has no choice but to divide the decedent’s property for them. They do this using the Texas Probate Code. This is a law designed to handle situations like this.
The Texas Probate Code outlines exactly how property is to be divided when someone dies without a will. If your loved one dies intestate, you should call an experienced probate attorney in Abilene. They know the law and can help guide you through the probate process.
When someone dies intestate, it can get very confusing. As clear as the Probate Code may be, there are still situations that can become very complicated. In order to make sure your loved one’s wishes are followed, you should have a skilled probate lawyer in Abilene there by your side.
There are Two Categories of Property
When someone dies, they typically leave behind both debts and assets. At some point, the debts have to be paid off. That is not something we’re going to discuss in this article. We will focus on the two main types of property someone leaves when they pass away.
The two types of property are separate property and community property. Most people have heard the term community property before. But not everyone really understands what it is.
Separate property is the assets someone accrued or acquired before the marriage. It can also include property that they received through an inheritance or gift at some point in their lives. This category of property is treated differently than the other type – community property.
Community property is the group of assets someone acquires with their spouse during their marriage. Basically, it includes all property acquired during the marriage with the exception of gifts and inheritances.
It’s important to understand the difference between these two types of property. This is because they are treated differently when someone dies in Abilene without a will.
What are the Possible Situations that Can Arise if Someone Died Without a Will?
If someone died without a will, their assets will be divided according to the rules set forth in the Texas Probate Code. How the property is divided depends on the situation that exists at the time of their death.
Here are the four (4) possible scenarios you can find when someone dies:
- They are survived by their spouse and children
- They have a spouse but no children
- Their children are alive but their spouse passed away before they did
- They died without a spouse and had no children
The easiest situation is when someone dies with children but no spouse. When this happens, the assets are equally divided between the surviving kids. All children are treated equally – even if those children were from a prior marriage. (Keep in mind – stepchildren are not entitled to collect assets in this situation.)
If there is a spouse but no kids, the following rules apply:
- All of the personal property will pass to the spouse
- ½ of the real property (land) will go to the spouse. The other half will pass to the parents and siblings of the deceased
If there is a surviving spouse and children, the property will be divided in the following manner:
The spouse gets 1/3 of all the decedent’s personal property. The other 2/3 will go to the children. As for land, 1/3 goes to the spouse for as long as they are alive. The rest passes to the children. When the spouse eventually passes away, their 1/3 difference will go to the kids evenly.
Finally, if there are no children and there is no spouse, things can get complicated. In this situation, the assets pass as follows:
- If both parents are alive, the property will pass to them
- If only one parent is alive, they get half and the decedent’s siblings get the other half
- If there are no parents but there are siblings, the siblings will split the assets evenly
- If neither parent nor siblings are alive, all assets will go the decedent’s grandparents
- If there are no grandparents alive, the assets will be distributed to the heirs of the grandparents, if any.
As you can see, these things can get complicated very quickly. If your loved one has died without a will, it’s important to call an experienced probate lawyer in Abilene, Texas. Contact Eddington & Worley today.