When you die in Texas, your family members may wonder what will happen to your estate. The assumption will probably be that you leave behind a will that stipulates how to disperse assets and property. Many people do not, though. Information shared by Gallup shows that less than 50% of American adults have a will.

People who die without a will are intestate. The distribution of intestate estates is not determined by heirs, but rather by the state.

The surviving spouse’s claim to an intestate estate

In Section 201 of the state’s Estate Code, the law explains that if you die intestate and you leave behind a spouse, the law entitles the spouse to all of your share of the community property if you have no surviving lineal heirs or if heirs are also descendants of your spouse. If your children are not also the children of your surviving spouse, then your portion of the community property would pass to your descendants.

As for your separate property, it also goes entirely to your spouse if you have no living heirs. The same holds true for any land you own if no siblings or parents survive you. If they do, then the ownership of one-half of your land would pass to them. If you have surviving heirs, then one-third of your separate property would go your spouse, while the remaining would pass to your children. The law would also entitle your spouse to a life-estate on your land, whose ownership would then pass to your descendants upon your spouse’s death.

Texas’s intestate order of distribution

If you die intestate and you have no spouse, the order of distribution of your estate would be as follows:

  • Your lineal descendants
  • Your parents
  • Your siblings (and their descendants)
  • Your grandparents (and their descendants, split equally between their maternal and paternal kindred)

In terms of intestate succession, the law would view an adopted child as your lineal descendant.