An intestate estate is left when a person dies without a will and leaves property that may be allocated to heirs of the deceased. Texas law decides how to distribute this property among those heirs. 

What Kind of Property Is Subject to Transfer without a Will?

Any property within the deceased’s estate may be transferred to the heirs or spouse as long as the property was not disposed of by will. 

What Interest Does the Surviving Spouse Have in the Property?

Texas is a community property state and therefore distinguishes between community property and separate property. There are different rules for each type of property.

  • Community Property: All of the community property belongs to the surviving spouse unless there are heirs that are not related to the surviving spouse. If this is the case, then the spouse will receive one half of the estate while the heirs will have the other half to divide among themselves. 
  • Separate Property: If there are no children and no other heirs, the surviving spouse will inherit the separate property. If the deceased had children, then the surviving spouse will take one third of the separate property and the other two thirds will go to the children and any  heirs. Finally, if the deceased is survived by a spouse with no children and heirs, then one half of the separate property estate shall go to the spouse while the other half will be divided among the descendants.

How Is the Intestate Estate Distributed If There Is No Surviving Spouse?

When the deceased is survived by heirs leaving no husband or wife, Texas distributes the estate according to a hierarchy. The general hierarchy  involved in the ranked distribution is:

  • Children
  • Parents
  • Brothers and Sisters

Should I Hire an Estate Attorney in Texas

Texas law can get very specific as to who has an interest in the intestate estate. An estate lawyer experienced in intestate succession would be most helpful in exploring your share of the property. Also your attorney near you will be able to assist you in fulfilling any requirements and filing deadlines crucial to your case.