Intestacy. Strange word; difficult problem.
The legal definition of intestacy is “the condition of having died without a valid will”
Dave Ramsey says “If you hate the people in your life, die without a will, because you’re going to tie them up for years.”
A will is a gift you leave your family or loved ones. It is a gift because it makes the management of your estate very clear and light-years easier. If you don’t have a will, the state (not known for its financial prowess) will decide what happens to your stuff, your kids, and your financial legacy. You don’t want this to happen. Even if you’re single, get a will right now! [source: daveramsey.com]
So what happens if you die without a valid will in the state of Texas? Well, the state of Texas has a “will” prepared for you. The court will decide for you who is in charge and how your estate is divided.
The majority of your assets will need to go through the probate process in order to be transferred properly. Probate is the legal process for settling the your estate whether you have a will or not.
Texas intestate succession laws determine the distribution of your estate. In other words, who gets what and how much depends on the relatives you have living when you die. Everything is split in a predetermined formula and your assets will be distributed based upon your legal relationships (blood or marriage).
This process leaves the burden for your heirs and the court system to wrangle over the distribution of your assets. The result may not produce the settlement that you would have chosen for your loved ones. In other words, taking this route is costly and time consuming and rarely benefits your family.
Besides determining the distribution of your assets, consider the complications this causes for your loved ones.
Your heirs will need to hire an attorney. The cost will be higher because of the additional time and paperwork involved.
An administrator will be named by the court. Even if all the beneficiaries agree on an administrator, the court has the authority to approve or refuse the application. The court determines what it considers to be in the best interest of the estate.
Your family will need to gather documents to prove relationships in your life (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) and may have to appear as witnesses at a hearing determining heirship.
Your loved ones may disagree on how your estate is divided or what happens to your remains. This can damage relationships in what otherwise has been a strong family.
Why have a will?
Most of us don’t really like to think about our own demise, but as the old saying goes, nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. Preparing a will allows you to put a plan in place for the settling of your estate. It allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely.
With a will, you can:
Name an executor. You choose who is in charge.
Name a guardian for your minor children
Assign assets according to your wishes.
Leave instructions for your burial or cremation
Having your will and other paperwork in order, reduces the stress and heartache for loved ones during an emotionally difficult time. The time and expense of preparing a will is minimal compared to the gift you leave your family.