If you die without a will in Texas (called “intestate”) then your estate will be controlled by the rules for Intestate Succession contained in the Texas Estates Code. These rules provide a helpful structure for the distribution of assets when the decedent’s (person who dies) wishes are not known. The problem is that these rules may do something very different from what you wanted.

One of the saddest phone calls we ever received was from a young woman who had spent many years caring for her ailing step-father. She had lived in his home, and cared for him in many ways. He was completely estranged from his two biological children. One had spent many years in jail, and both had made many poor choices. Further, both biological children had not cared for their father, or even had any contact with him for many years.

And now we get to the problem, the step-father had promised his step-daughter (who he had not adopted) that he would leave many things to her upon his death. Unfortunately, he never took the necessary steps to accomplish this. When he died suddenly, and without a will, it was too late. The rules of intestate succession came into play, and under these rules his estate passed to his two biological children, regardless of his relationship with them (or lack thereof), and regardless of what his intentions were.

Why leave things to chance, or to be decided by a default set of rules that know nothing about you or your wishes? Let us help you develop an Estate Plan that is right for you, your family, and your circumstances.

A common misconception is that only rich people need wills. Everyone needs a will. Regardless of how much you own, if you hold title to basic items like a car, or a home (including mobile home), you cannot transfer the title to such items once you are dead – meaning no one else can own or sell the items – until your estate has gone through the probate process, which means going to court. The probate process will almost certainly cost you more than it will to set up a good estate plan. And the probate process also takes time, which might make things very difficult for your heirs when they settle your affairs.

It has been said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that is certainly true when it comes to Estate Planning.