How Property Distributed When Someone Dies Without A Will

What are the Inheritance Rights of Half-Siblings When Someone Dies Without a Will?

by Rania Combs

When someone dies without a Will in Texas, the deceased person’s property is distributed according to a statutory formula found in the Texas Estate Code.

According to the intestacy statutes, siblings inherit only if a person does not have a surviving spouse, descendants, or parents. When there is a surviving spouse, descendants, or parents, their inheritance rights take priority.

Do Half-Siblings Have Equal Inheritance Rights as Full Siblings?

According to the Texas Estates Code, half-siblings and full siblings do not have equal inheritance rights. Since half-siblings only share one parent with the rest of their siblings, half-siblings inherit only half as much as the full sibling inherits.

This is not the case in all states. For example in states like California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and North Carolina, half-siblings have the same intestacy rights as full siblings.

What Happens if All Siblings are Half-Siblings?

If all siblings are half-siblings, then all siblings would share equal inheritance rights.

So in a situation where one parent remarried and your only siblings are half-siblings, each of your half-siblings will inherit equal shares of your estate.

Do Step-Siblings have Inheritance Rights Under the Texas Intestacy Statutes?

A step-sibling is not a legal heir in Texas. They have no inheritance rights under the Texas intestacy statutes.

How to Ensure a Step-Sibling or Half-Sibling Gets Equal Inheritance Rights in Texas?

Many people have close relations with their step-siblings and half-siblings. In some cases, the relationship is stronger than with a full sibling. If that is your situation and you want to ensure that your half-sibling receives equal inheritance rights, you need a Will.

The statutory formula outlined in the intestacy statutes applies only to situations when someone dies without a Will. If you want your half-sibling to have equal inheritance rights, you make that clear in your Will.

This article was initially published on October 21, 2015 and updated on May 16, 2022.

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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  1. Hector Hernandez

    December 28, 2017 at 5:23pm

    My father passed leaving behind his wife and four children. Two with the wife and two with a prior marriage. He did not leave a will. As far as I can remember he would always tell us that everything he has belonged to all four of us. He did not leave a will. How would this work?

    1. Rania Combs

      December 31, 2017 at 2:29pm

      The following article discusses how property is distributed when someone dies without a Will: Dying Without a Will: The Texas Intestacy Statutes.

  2. Rita Deddens

    May 8, 2020 at 7:41pm

    If three siblings have the same mother, but two have a different father, is the third sibling still considered a half sibling of the other two?

    1. Rania Combs

      May 13, 2020 at 11:16am

      By definition, half siblings are siblings that only share one parent rather than full sibling, who share two.