These days, more people are understanding the importance of estate planning. Of course, not every person creates the necessary documents to ensure that their loved ones know their end-of-life wishes. As a result, many people have to go through the probate process after a loved one's death without instruction from the decedent.
Dying without a will is known as dying intestate. This means that the estate must follow Texas state law when it comes to distributing the person's assets. Many surviving family members may have concerns over this type of distribution as they may think they are entitled to certain property. However, state law will generally distribute assets to the closest living relatives, though certain circumstances may dictate the order of distribution.
Under state law, if a deceased person has a surviving spouse and children, the majority of the assets will likely go to the spouse. Specifically, the spouse will receive all of the community property that was held by the spouse and the decedent as well as one-third of the deceased's separate property. The deceased individual's children will then receive the remaining assets that do not pass to the spouse.
While Texas state law does account for estates than do not have any planning documents, it is not an ideal situation. Of course, surviving loved ones can do little to rectify the situation because the estate owner has already passed. Still, they may find it helpful to consult with probate attorneys regarding their legal options, especially if they believe that they could be entitled to certain property from the estate or if other concerns arise.