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What causes an estate to escheat?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Estate Planning |

If a person dies without a will and they have no beneficiaries, relatives or descendants, then the estate may escheat. This means that the money or assets in the estate will go to the state of Texas, allowing the state to use those funds or assets however it sees fit.

Since an estate only escheats when there are no potential heirs to the estate and when no will is present, it’s important for people to create a will to prevent this from happening.

Understanding intestate succession laws

Intestate succession laws go into place when a person dies without a will. When no will is present, the estate is distributed based on the state’s guidelines.

In Texas, assets may be passed on to a spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings or parents through intestate succession laws. Determining who will obtain which assets is straightforward.

When you’re survived by a spouse

If your spouse survives you, they will inherit all of the estate unless you have children or parents who are still living. If you have children with your surviving spouse, your spouse will receive all community property. Then, they’ll get a third of any separate personal property. They’ll also be able to use all of your real estate. The rest of the balance of the estate goes to your children.

If the children are not biological, then your surviving spouse will get a third of your personal property and real estate. The children will get your share of community property, as well as all other balances.

If you have a spouse and parents who survive you, then your spouse will obtain all the community property and separate personal property. They will also get to keep half of the real estate. Your parents would inherit the balance.

As you can see, this process is fairly complex and may distribute property in a way that you are not comfortable with. If you want to prevent certain people from obtaining your assets or want to be sure that your spouse receives everything following your death, then you need to have a will in place to make your wishes known.