I explained last week that an heir is a person who will inherit your property by virtue of a state’s intestacy laws if you die without a Will. The Texas intestacy statutes are essentially a Will that the state of Texas writes for you. They are rigid and inflexible and do not take into account your unique circumstances.
If you are single and die without a Will, the identity of your heirs will depend on whether you are survived by descendants, parents, siblings or other relatives.
- If you are survived by descendants, your heirs will be your descendants. For example, if you are survived by children, each of your children would inherit in equal shares. If one of your children predeceased you leaving children of his or her own, then those grandchildren would be entitled to share the portion of your estate that your child would have received had he or she survived.
- If you don’t have any descendants, your heirs will be your parents, who will inherit your property in equal shares. If one parent has predeceased you and you don’t have siblings, your surviving parent would inherit your entire estate. However, if you are survived by siblings, your surviving parent would inherit one half of the estate and the other half of your estate would pass to your siblings (or the descendants of siblings if a sibling predeceases you). If both your parents have predeceased you, then your entire estate would pass to your siblings or their descendants.
- What if you have no surviving descendants, parents, siblings, or nieces or nephews? In this case, your heirs would be your extended relatives. Your estate would be divided into two halves, with one half passing to relatives on your mother’s side of the family and the other half passing to relatives on your father’s side of the family. If one side of the family has completely died out, then the other side would inherit everything.
In rare situations, if there are no familial heirs whatsoever, the state of Texas would inherit your estate.