You have likely been told that creating a comprehensive estate plan is a good idea and that, at a bare minimum, you should have a valid Last Will and Testament in place. If you have yet to execute a Will it may be because, despite being told how important it is, you really don’t understand why it is so important. Like many people, you may think that because your assets are not worth all that much a Will is unnecessary. To gain a better understanding of the importance of creating an executing a Last Will and Testament it helps to know how property is distributed without a Will in Texas.
When someone dies and leaves behind a valid Will the decedent is said to have died “testate”. If the decedent did not leave behind a valid Will the decedent died “intestate”. When a decedent died intestate, the Texas intestate succession laws decide what will happen to the estate assets left behind by the decedent. The reason for this is that, as a matter of public policy, the state wants all property to have a rightful and legal owner. Therefore, the Texas intestate succession laws will determine who inherits assets when an individual dies intestate. Those laws dictate that close family members (children, spouse, parents, and siblings) will inherit all of your estate assets unless none survive you in which case more distant relatives will inherit from your estate.
Like many people, you may be under the impression that your assets are not sufficiently valuable to warrant needing a Will. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You do not need to own valuable asset to care what happens to them when you die. Family heirlooms, for example, might be part of your estate assets. If so, you may have promised them to a specific child, grandchild, or even a niece or nephew. Without a Will that expresses that promise though the State of Texas will decide who receives your family heirlooms. More importantly, your family heirlooms might need to be sold in order to create the required division of assets among heirs according to the Texas intestate succession laws. In other words, your family heirlooms could be lost forever if you fail to execute a Will prior to your death.
Along with potentially losing family heirlooms, friends and more distant relatives to whom you were close during your lifetime will receive nothing from your estate if you die intestate. Likewise, a charity that was close to your heart while alive will also receive nothing from your estate unless you leave the charity a gift in your Will.
Unless you want the State of Texas to decide what happens to your assets when you die, creating at least a Last Will and Testament prior to your death is crucial. Contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.