Texans who are considering if they need a will should know what happens to their property if they die without one. This depends on a lot of factors and can involve a very complicated court process. Texas has laws in place to deal with property transfers after death, but people who have certain wishes for their property disposition may want to talk to an attorney about creating a will.
Separate property and community property for spouses
After people get married in Texas, they own two types of property. One is separate property, and the other is community property. Separate property, as the name says, is property that the spouses each own separately. This will include property owned by each individual before they were married, property received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage and sometimes damages from a personal injury claim. Community property, on the other hand, is property that is owned by the spouses jointly. This includes any money, property or other benefits acquired during the marriage.
If there are no children that are not related to the widowed spouse, all community property is given to the widowed spouse if the deceased spouse dies without a will. Separate property is dealt with in a different way.
What are the benefits of having a will?
The primary benefit of having a will is that property will be disposed of in the manner that the deceased chose. When people die without a will, their property is transferred according to the law, and nobody has any say about where the property goes and what happens to it.
Also, when people die without having created a will, their assets will be frozen for a period of time. There are several court proceedings that must occur before property can be passed on. The court has to determine who the heirs of the deceased are and may have to appoint an administrator. The administrator inventories assets, locates the heirs, pays off debts and other claims and finally distributes the property. Certain legal documents will be needed to transfer certain types of property.
A will may also save the deceased’s family from tension and drama. Most of the time, they will simply have to accept how the relative wanted the assets to be distributed, whereas there could be a greater chance of a legal battle if the asset distribution is determined by law.
Houston-area estate planning
Residents wishing to create a will in Texas should contact an estate planning attorney. An estate attorney can help residents create and execute a legally binding instrument that will help pass property to intended recipients. An experienced attorney can help with a variety of estate planning needs like wills, trusts, asset protection and powers of attorney. Houston-area residents and homeowners should not face complex estate planning issues alone.