FAQs About Dying Without A Will

Who Are The Heirs of a Single Person With No Surviving Parents or Children Who Dies Without a Will?

by Rania Combs

When an unmarried person dies without a Will in Texas, the Texas Intestacy Statutes control how their property will be distributed. The intestacy statutes are the Texas legislature’s best guess on how a Texan would want their property distributed when they die.

In Texas, if a single person dies without a Will, and has no surviving children or parents, then that estate will pass to the deceased individual’s siblings. For example, suppose John is a single person who dies without any children. Suppose further, that both his parents have predeceased him, but he has three siblings: Jane, Jared, and Jessie. If all three survive John, the estate will be divided into three shares with each sibling inhering a third of the estate.

But what happens if one of John’s siblings, Jessie, predeceases him? In that case, it is necessary to determine whether the Jessie had any surviving descendants. If Jessie did not have any surviving descendants, then John’s estate would be split in two, with one-half of the estate passing to Jane and the other half passing to Jared. If, however, Jessie had two children, then the estate would be split into three shares, with Jane and Jared each inheriting one-third of the estate, and the remaining third passing to Jessie’s two children in equal shares.

Let’s take this example one step further. Suppose Jane, Jared, and Jessie all predecease John. Suppose further that Jane is survived by three children, Jared is survived by one child, and Jessie is survived by two children. Would John’s estate still be divided in three parts with each deceased sibling’s share passing to their descendants?

The answer is no. The Texas statutes provide that when distributing property to heirs, property is divided into equal shares at the first generational level where there are living takers. If all John’s siblings have predeceased him, the first generation at which there would be takers would be at the level of his nieces and nephews. Therefore, in the last example where all John’s siblings have predeceased him, John’s estate would instead be divided into six shares, with each niece or nephew inheriting an equal share of John’s estate.

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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