Everything You Need to Know About New Texas Inheritance Laws

new texas inheritance laws

If you live in Texas and are expecting an inheritance or plan to leave assets to your loved ones, you need to know about the new inheritance laws. These changes can significantly impact how your estate is divided among your heirs, especially if you die without a will.

The new Texas inheritance laws bring several changes that could affect the distribution of your assets after death. From new intestate succession laws to what happens if one of your heirs passes away before receiving their share of the inheritance, here’s everything you need to know about the new inheritance laws in Texas and how to get help.

What Are the New Texas Inheritance Laws?

The new Texas inheritance laws, which took effect on September 1, 2020, are designed to simplify the intestate succession process.

One of the most important changes is that there’s no longer a distinction between community property and separate property. Instead, all property acquired during a marriage will be considered community property unless stated otherwise in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This means both spouses have equal ownership rights over all assets acquired during marriage.

This means that if one spouse dies without a valid will, the surviving spouse will keep their half of the community property. Then the deceased’s half of the community property and all of their separate property will be split amongst the surviving spouse, their children, and other potential heirs according to various formulas.

Changes to Property Division without a Will in Texas

If you pass away without a will in Texas, the state’s intestacy laws will determine how your property is divided among surviving family members. If you’re survived by a spouse and no children, your spouse will receive your entire estate.

But, if you have children from a previous relationship or with your current spouse, your spouse will receive half of the estate while the remaining half is divided equally among your children.

Spouse Receives Entire Estate if No Children

Under the new Texas inheritance laws, if a married person with no children passes away without a will, their entire estate goes to their spouse. This means that even if you have siblings, parents, or other family members, they won’t receive any of your assets if you pass away before your spouse.

This only applies to childless couples—if you have children from previous relationships or marriages, they may still be entitled to a portion of your estate. This change in property division is meant to simplify the process of distributing assets after someone dies without a will. However, it can also lead to complications and disputes between family members who believe they should be entitled to some assets.

If you want more control over who receives your property after you pass away, consider creating a will outlining your wishes and designating beneficiaries is important.

Spouse Receives Half of the Estate if Children are Present

these updated Texas inheritance laws, giving them a fair share while prioritizing your family.

However, this law could have significant legal implications for couples without children. If there are no children, the surviving spouse gets full community and all of the deceased’s separate personal property. Any separate real property will need to be split with other relatives.

Remaining Half is Divided Among Children

The remaining half of the estate is divided amongst any children, ensuring they receive a fair share of their parent’s assets.

To divide the remaining half of the estate among the children, certain rules apply:

  1. Each child receives an equal share of the estate unless there are special circumstances such as disability or other factors that may require some children to receive more than others.
  2. If one or more of the children have already passed away, their share goes to their descendants instead.
  3. Should there be no surviving descendants at all from any deceased child of the deceased parent, then those shares go back into the remaining pool for distribution amongst the living children equally.

Other Changes in the New Inheritance Laws

One other change in Texas inheritance laws is eliminating inheritance estate tax. This means that beneficiaries no longer have to pay taxes on the assets they inherit from a deceased individual.

Another change pertains to the probate process. The new law has increased the threshold for small estates, making it easier for heirs to claim assets without going through probate court. Additionally, a new law allows individuals to transfer real property upon death using a Transfer-on-Death Deed (TODD).

These changes can greatly affect how you plan your estate and distribute your assets. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney specializing in estate planning and understand these new laws before making any decisions about your estate plan.

Impact on Blended Families

Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning and inheritances. This is because there may be stepchildren, half-siblings, or other family members who are not related by blood or marriage but still have a legal claim to an individual’s assets under certain circumstances.

Legal considerations are particularly important in blended families because failure to plan properly can lead to disputes and even litigation among family members after someone dies.

For example, if a stepmother passes away without a will, her assets will go first to her spouse (the father) and then to her biological children. This means that stepchildren may not receive any inheritance unless they are specifically named in the will.

Why Estate Planning is Important

You want to ensure that your hard-earned assets go exactly where you want them to go, and estate planning allows you to do just that.

Estate planning is preparing to transfer your assets after your death or incapacitation. It involves creating legal documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney that outline how you want your property distributed and who should receive it.

Some benefits of estate planning include:

  1. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. You can specify who gets what when they get it, and under what conditions.
  2. It helps minimize taxes and other expenses associated with transferring assets after death.
  3. It can provide protection for loved ones who may be too young or inexperienced in managing their inheritance properly by setting up trusts or naming guardians for minor children.

Estate planning is an important step in securing the financial future of both you and your family members. Work with the Titus Law Firm if you need to create or revise your estate plans. Our estate planning attorneys help you ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. Contact us today.

Author Bio

Eddison S. Titus

Eddison S. Titus is the Founder of The Titus Law Firm, a Houston estate planning, business law, and real estate law firm he founded in 2016. He has successfully represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including will and trust creation, probate, real estate transactions, business formation, business and contract disputes, and business succession planning.

Eddison received his Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

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