I got an email from someone this week whose husband did not have 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 they got married, he bought a house and a commercial building. During their marriage, they bought a home together.
She asked: “Could this type of situation be a problem in Texas?” The short answer is yes!
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, his surviving spouse will only be entitled to keep 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 is entitled to only a life estate in one-third of that property. The remainder is inherited outright by the deceased spouse’s children in equal shares.
The Unintended Result of Intestacy in Blended Families
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 would only be entitled to a life estate in one third of that property. The remainder would be inherited outright by the four children.
With respect to their homestead, since it was purchased during their marriage, it is presumed to be community property. She would be entitled to keep her share of the community, 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 being distributed in a way you may not have chosen.
If you are a part of a blended family and want to be in control of how your assets are distributed when you die, you need a Will.