Estate Planning

FAQs About Estate Planning

Can My Husband Give His Children Our Homestead If He Owned It Before We Married?

by Rania Combs

I received a note from a concerned wife.

Her husband had purchased the home in which they resided two years before they were married.

Throughout their marriage, she contributed to paying the mortgage and paying bills associated with its upkeep. However, she discovered that he wrote a Will that gave the home to his children instead of her.

She asked: Is it legal for him to leave the property to his children instead of me?

In Texas, whether property is characterized as separate or community property is fixed at the “inception of title.” Property acquired before marriage is separate property. Property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property.

Individuals, even married ones, can dispose of separate property as they wish in a Will. But that does not mean that surviving spouses can be evicted from their homes. Certain constitutional protections are available for surviving spouses in Texas. A surviving spouse is entitled to a life estate in the homestead, and cannot be forced to sell the property as long as he or she occupies and uses it.

So despite the fact that the separate property is given to someone other than a spouse, a spouse has the right to live on the property for as long as he or she desires without fear of eviction.

Additionally, even though the property is separate property, the fact that community funds or separate funds are spent to improve or payoff separate property may give rise to a claim for reimbursement.

This article was originally published on May 23, 2018 and updated on April 18, 2023.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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