What happens if you die without a will?

Most people don't think about dying young. They assume they'll be older when they pass away, giving them plenty of time to do what they need to do to plan for their estate and end-of-life wishes. The truth of the matter is that no one knows when he or she is going to die, and not having a will could end up leaving your family with difficulties after you pass away.

When a person dies in Texas without having a Last Will and Testament, the laws of the state immediately kick in. These laws, found in the probate code, determine who inherits which parts of a person's estate.

For example, if you are a young person without a family, your mother or father may inherit the assets you own. If you have children and no spouse, then your child may inherit everything. In the case that you have no relatives, the assets you owned automatically transfer to the state of Texas.

It's a good idea to develop a will early on in life and to update it accordingly. For instance, you could create a will at age 30 to dictate what happens to simple assets like your personal property or savings account. When you have children, you can update your will to include them and establish what you'll leave behind as an inheritance. If you get married or divorced, you may again change your will to show the changes in your life's circumstances.

Starting the estate planning process early helps guarantee that it's in place if the worst happens. Your attorney can help you get started.