In Texas, when someone dies without leaving a will or trust to their heirs, the question of estate entitlement can be complicated. In some states, this process is relatively simple, but in Texas, the laws in regards to heirship are complex.
Who Can Be an Heir?
Not everyone who knew the deceased is an heir to the estate, they must meet certain legal requirements. Heirs must be:
- children (biological and adopted);
- parents; and/or
- siblings of the deceased.
Under certain circumstances, relatives such as uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren may be considered heirs as well.
Filing for Heirship
When a family member dies without an heir, the family must apply for heirship with a Texas probate court. Each heir must sign, or be legally served, the application. If there is a possibility of an unknown heir, the court demands a notice of the estate-owner’s passing in a county newspaper and courthouse.
The application must include a chart naming all known heirs, along with their:
- relationship to the deceased;
- interest in all property; and
- ages of all minor heirs.
All applicants to the estate must be able to prove, either through an oral or written testimony, that the details they provide to the court are true.
How Are Assets Distributed?
If the estate only has one type of heir, such as a spouse, they will receive all assets. If there are multiple heirs of the same type (children, parents, etc.), the assets will be distributed equally among them.
The distribution becomes more complicated when more than one type of heir is involved. If the heirs of an estate are determined to be a spouse and their children, for example, the spouse retains the right to use the deceased’s real estate for the remainder of their life. Additionally, the spouse receives a third of the deceased’s personal property as well as all jointly held property. The remaining two-thirds of the personal property would then be distributed among the children.
At The Springer Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience in all Texas probate matters. If your loved one has recently passed on without a will or trust, we can help. We can walk you through the entirety of the heirship proceedings to simplify the process as much as possible.Contact our firm online or call us at (281) 990-6025 for a case evaluation.