Succession Without A Will
When a person dies without a last will and testament, the estate may still need to be administered through the Probate Court, but without the benefit of the decedent's selection of an executor or any direction as to which heirs should receive which assets.
Douglas C. Smith - El Paso Intestate Succession Law Firm
If you are facing a case of an intestate estate, contact me at the law firm of Douglas C. Smith. I'll be able to help you figure out the rules of Texas intestate succession estate administration and take care of your probate responsibilities.
The duties of the administrator are similar to those of the executor where a last will and testament is available for guidance. You must publish and advertise the estate, pay debts and taxes, and marshal the assets of the estate for liquidation and distribution just as an executor would. Intestate estates can present special problems, however. Unless the estate is worth less than $50,000, they're handled under what's known as dependent administration, which requires the approval of all heirs and the Probate Court at every stage. Fortunately, if all the heirs agree, the administrator can choose to handle a substantial estate under independent administration, which takes the estate out from under the direct supervision of the Probate Court and vastly simplifies the process.
If there's no will, then who are the heirs? The Texas Probate Code designates the persons who will inherit from the decedent by relationship, by priority, and by the type of property involved. For example, if the decedent leaves a surviving spouse and has no other relatives, the surviving spouse would keep his or her half of the community property, and inherit the decedent's half of the community property and all of his or her separate property.
If the decedent and surviving spouse have a surviving child, then the spouse inherits all of the community property, and one-third of the decedent's separate property. The child would receive the other two-thirds. If the child were the decedent's descendant by a prior marriage, however, half the community property would pass to that child. If there were three such children, they would divide among themselves equally two-thirds of the separate property and half of the community property.
These are the simplest examples, and the Probate Code addresses all of the situations where property might pass to a surviving parent or sibling, grandchildren through a deceased parent who would have been an heir, and so on. For detailed advice about succession planning and intestate administration, contact me at the Law Offices of Douglas C. Smith in El Paso.