If a family member in Texas passes away with no will or leaves behind an asset not covered in a will, this can pose a challenge for the surviving family members. Assets that might not have been covered in a will include property that was acquired following the creation of the will, or property that was intended for beneficiaries who have died. In this situation, the family members who are left behind may need to complete a process known as heirship determination.
Heirship determination can be an uncertain and lengthy process. Courts in Texas will determine all heirs’ identities and then decide how an estate should be distributed among them based on applicable intestate law. This happens with no regard for what the beneficiaries think the deceased loved one might have wanted done with the property he or she left.
Going through heirship determination involves a small estate affidavit if the estate is valued at under $50,000. If the estate is valued at over $50,000, an attorney ad litem must be appointed to represent the unknown heirs’ interests. In addition, the attorney ad litem must investigate to determine if some parents, siblings, children or spouses have not been told about the loved one’s death.
An attorney in Texas can answer any questions a person might have concerning these issues for potential beneficiaries. Legal counsel can even apply to a court to clear title to the assets of a deceased loved one. The attorney can look for ways of making the heirship determination process go much more efficiently and resolve any crisis for the sake of the entire family long term.