If a person passes away without a will, it may cause the distribution of their estate to be more complicated.
In Texas, any property that the deceased person owned as well as their debts are addressed during the probate process. The amount of debt is subtracted from the total amount of their property and any remaining balance is distributed to beneficiaries according to their connection to the deceased, per stirpes.
Per stirpes means that if a beneficiary passes away before the person who made the will, his or her share of the inheritance goes to that beneficiary’s heirs. Beneficiaries may include a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. They may also be referred to as descendants.
If the deceased person leaves a surviving spouse, his or her spouse will have a right to inherit their property and a right to use the deceased person’s real estate for life. If the deceased person leaves children, they are entitled to inherit the balance of the estate. If the deceased person does not leave any family members behind, the entire estate may go to the state.
The probate process can take months or even several years to complete, can be expensive and complicated for the person who is left to manage it. When a person does not create a will before he or she passes away, there is less control over the outcome of how the estate is distributed. A person can create an estate plan with an experienced attorney to avoid this and to ensure their wishes are clearly known.