Doctor holding man's handsThis is the second post in our series on what happens when a Texas resident dies without a will. Our last post served as an overview of this series and discussed issues that may arise when one does not make arrangements regarding their estate. It is important to understand the consequences of dying without a will, as many are unaware of what can happen. In this article we will discuss how situations involving “intestate estates” arise. Contact our Dallas probate lawyers if you find yourself in a dispute regarding such a situation.

Texas residents who pass away without a will are considered to have died “intestate”

When one dies without a will, the law considers that person to have died intestate. Texas law has rules in place to determine how one’s property and assets are divided and how debts will be settled in such situations. These laws are important, as they help to prevent a free for all in which relatives and descendants fight among themselves over the deceased’s belongings. Our intestate succession laws also help to rectify situations in which relatives begin helping themselves to a deceased’s assets; if, for example, relatives began looting the deceased’s home or bank accounts, then courts can order that any assets be returned, and any money repaid, so that these assets and funds can be properly distributed under Texas law.

It is important to understand that intestate estates are common in Texas and throughout the country. Many individuals, for understandable reasons, do not want to deal with the prospect of their own passing as few things are as depressing as considering one’s own demise. The large number of intestate estates leads to heirs feeling helpless when other heirs begin the type of estate looting described above; heirs feel they are helpless and adopt a mindset of “they died without a will, there’s nothing I can do.” This is not the case. Our attorneys can and will assist in those situations. In addition to Dallas, we serve Plano, Denton, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Frisco, McKinney, Highland Park, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Nacogdoches, and Lufkin, Texas.

There are multiple ways in which an estate in Dallas, or elsewhere in Texas, can become intestate.

There are two ways in which Dallas, Texas residents may find themselves dealing with an intestate estate. The first and most obvious way is when one dies without a will. The second way is if the deceased had a will but the will is invalid. There are many instances in which one may die with a will, but that will is found by a court to be unenforceable. These instances can include situations where the deceased lacked mental capacity to sign the will, if the deceased signed the will under duress, or instances of fraud. When a will is invalidated in Texas, the intestate succession laws will apply. This means that intestate estate issues arise more than many people realize.

It is strongly suggested that you contact counsel in any matter regarding an estate or probate.

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