Most Texans die without leaving a valid will that instructs the probate court how to distribute their assets. In such cases, the decedent's property must be distributed according to rules that have been adopted in the state's statutes. These rules are known as the rules of intestate succession, and anyone who dies without a will is said to have died intestate.
July 2019 Archives
Texas parents with special needs children are constantly faced with the question of how to provide for the child's expenses. This question is especially vexing when the issue is estate planning. Special needs children often rely on a variety of state and federal programs to provide financial assistance, but eligibility for these programs can often by undercut by estate plans that do not take into account the limits on the child's income and assets that can affect eligibility. The solution to this problem is often provided by a special needs trust.
Texas estates come in all shapes and sizes. Some are large, involving thousands perhaps millions of dollars in assets, some are small, comprising only a few thousand dollars in assets. Some estates consist entirely of cash and stocks and bonds, while others include mostly real property. And most estates have debts left by the decedent that must be paid from estate assets. In essence, estate administration in Texas involves the collection of the decedent's assets, payment of debts and distribution of the remainder of the estate to the decedent's heir and other beneficiaries.
Most Texas wills are valid and sail through the probate court without a hitch. Every so often, however, a relative may disagree with the bequests in the will and decide to challenge the validity of the will. A will challenge is perhaps the most contentious form of probate litigation because it often pits one family member against another. For large estates, however, the challenge could be worth thousands or even millions of dollars. The grounds for a successful challenge are not especially complicated.
There are numerous and often very personal reasons why people put off creating an estate plan. You may be among those who find it difficult to think about these topics in the privacy of your own home, let alone discussing them with a stranger in a lawyer's officer.