Man performing accountingThis is the next post in our series on how Texas handles probate when one dies without a will. Our last post focused on who inherits in a Texas intestate estate case. It is important to understand how heirs are determined because the issue of who should inherit is often disputed. In this article we will touch on the subject of whether or not property should be included in an estate where there was no will.

Dallas residents may be surprised how often disputes occur over whether or not property should be included in a Texas estate

Many residents of Dallas, and elsewhere in Texas, err in thinking that all property will automatically be part of the estate in an intestate succession case. The truth of the matter is that there are many types of assets that will not be part of the estate. Examples of these assets include the deceased’s 401(k) or retirement account (which often include a defined beneficiary), life insurance proceeds, property classified as separate property of a surviving spouse, and property owned in joint tenancy. These types of items are not included in an intestate estate because the deceased decided before death who receives the property, and the asset will pass directly to the beneficiaries outside of the probate. Heirs, therefore, may not have a stake in valuable assets such as a retirement account.

There are other instances in which the inclusion of property in an intestate estate is disputed. These can include situations where property was fraudulently transferred away from the deceased before death, disagreements over whether the property actually belonged to the deceased, and other situations. It is important to understand that these type of disagreements can take time to resolve in court, and the process for doing so is complicated. Hiring an attorney to assist you with these and similar matters is crucial.

Our Dallas probate lawyers handle a variety of matters where the inclusion of property in an estate is disputed. Call today to schedule an initial consultation. In addition to Dallas, our lawyers serve Plano, Denton, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Frisco, McKinney, Highland Park, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Nacogdoches, and Lufkin, Texas.

Dallas residents should not mistakenly assume that property is not part of an intestate estate

As explained above, there may be instances where property was transferred out of an estate by fraud or even simply by mistake. This can happen in situations where a relative does not understand the probate rules or is angry that they will not inherit so they manufacture the transfer of property to themselves. Unfortunately, many Dallas residents err by thinking there is nothing they can do about such a situation. They reach this mindset out of a belief that “what’s done is done.” The truth is that a mistake or even a fraudulent transfer can be undone, even after death, and heirs should protect their rights. Contact our office if you have questions.