The “What Happens Without a Valid Texas Will” blog post by Daniel L. O’Neil

by News Editor
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on 02 December 2015
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If you have a valid Texas Will when you die, you are said to die testate in our legal jargon. 

 

For the vast majority of cases things proceed relatively streamlined in an expected fashion through Probate Court if you die testate and your property is distributed as you saw fit to plan for with Will provisions and nonprobate transfers. Things go according to plan for the vast majority of people.

You can die without a valid Texas Will in two main ways we see over and again: (1) you had no Will at all; or (2) the Will you got from an online document assembly shop for cheap since it was not drafted by a Texas lawyer was determined to not be a valid Texas Will by the Probate Court. They both lead to the same outcome though.

When you die without a valid Will you are said to die intestate in our legal jargon. This subjects the loved ones you leave behind to additional court proceedings not required if you die testate. This also subjects all of your assets to the laws of intestacy – which the State of Texas has put into place as the default estate plan for you. If you do not opt out of the default by executing a valid Texas Will, you are stuck with what the government wanted to happen for you. This concept alone usually excites people enough to become interested in the topic of estate planning.

The laws of intestacy are considered a harsh mistress since it can make some unexpected distributions of your property. It’s a sort of penalty tax that you did not opt out of the default estate plan. So instead of providing for your close friends, unmarried romantic partner, and charitable interests: your property might go to someone you hated and did not talk to for over 50 years. This is why we say that having a valid Will and estate plan is extremely important to have in place so you can appropriately provide for the friends, family, and charitable interests you leave behind.

Defaults just do not work for everyone. And unexpected things can happen – a traumatic brain injury from an unexpected accident or disease such as Alzheimer’s could remove mental faculties that a Testator is legally required to have while they are participating in the crafting of the estate plan, as well as in the formal Will execution ceremony where your estate plan becomes officially set in place with signatures, witnesses, and Texas notary.

This is a mistake that many people make: waiting too long to sit down with an estate planning lawyer. It’s unfortunately a simple fact of life that we do not live forever and our health is not always going to be perfect. A way to cherish our good, healthy days is to not put things off until tomorrow that need to be done today.

On issues like these, I have to put my money where my mouth is. Personally, I just updated all of my estate planning documents before the Thanksgiving holiday to reflect the recently changed family circumstances in my life.

Here at Frye, Oaks, and Benavidez PLLC we take care of your family, no matter what your family unit looks like. One important way we look out for your family is giving you a judgment-free safe space to talk about your intimate family details. Then we help you craft an estate plan that takes into consideration those family details. If things change in the future, such as a divorce, marriage, or a new child (through birth or adoption) we are just a phone call away to begin updating your documents to reflect your recently changed circumstances.

If you are still on the fence about this whole “estate planning thing” then this is what the laws of intestacy have to say about where your property go:

 

[Important introductory note and disclaimer: This “descent and distribution” graphical reference chart with annotations was prepared by and shared with the general public compliments of Judge Guy Herman, who has no personal, professional, or financial affiliation with our law firm. His publication is re-shared without any editorial commentary, items marked for emphasis, or otherwise altered in any fashion. Re-sharing his publication does not imply or overtly express any personal, professional, or financial relationship our firm or our individual lawyers of the firm have with the judge, the Probate Court, or the County.]


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[Important reminder in conclusion and disclaimer: This “descent and distribution” graphical reference chart with annotations was prepared by and shared with the general public compliments of Judge Guy Herman, who has no personal, professional, or financial affiliation with our law firm. His publication is re-shared without any editorial commentary, items marked for emphasis, or otherwise altered in any fashion. Re-sharing his publication does not imply or overtly express any personal, professional, or financial relationship our firm or our individual lawyers of the firm have with the judge, the Probate Court, or the County.]

 

If you don’t like this distribution of your property and you do not have a valid Texas Will in place, please give us a call and let’s talk about crafting your estate plan today.

713 227-1717

 



 

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