If You Are A Part of A Blended Family, You Need A Will
I got an email from someone whose husband died without a Will. She and her husband had been married for 17 years. He had three children from a prior marriage, and they had one child together.
Before their marriage, he bought a house and a commercial building. During their marriage, they bought a home together.
She asked: “Wouldn’t I as his spouse inherit all the property?” The short answer is no!
Intestate Distribution in Blended Families
Many people assume that when they die, their spouse will inherit all their property. This is not always the case.
When a married person dies without a will in Texas, and leaves children from another relationship, the surviving spouse keeps her own one-half interest in the community estate. The deceased spouse’s share of the community estate will pass to his children in equal shares.
Additionally, only one-third of the deceased spouse’s separate personal property will pass to his surviving spouse, with the remaining two-thirds passing to his children.
If the deceased spouse died leaving separate real property, the surviving spouse inherits only a life estate in one-third of that property. The deceased spouse’s children inherit the remainder.
The Unintended Result of Intestacy in Blended Families
Texas defines separate property as property a spouse owned before marriage or received as a gift or inheritance, even during marriage. In the scenario above, the house and building the husband purchased before marriage are his separate property. Since he has children from another marriage, his wife inherits only a one-third interest in that property. The four children inherit the remainder.
With respect to their homestead, since the couple purchased it during their marriage, there is a presumption that it is community property. Therefore, she would keep her one-half interest in the property, but the husband’s share of the house would pass to all four children in equal shares. In other words, she would no longer be the sole owner of her own home.
The intestacy laws are rigid and inflexible. They don’t take into account your unique circumstances and may result in your assets passing in a way you may not have chosen.
If you are a part of a blended family and want to be in control of who receives your property after you die, you need a Will.