In Texas, when a person dies without a valid will or trust, their assets will be distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy. This means that the court will determine how your property is divided up based on a set heir hierarchy.


This is what would happen:

  • Any surviving spouse has rights to a portion of your estate.
  • If you have children with that spouse, the spouse would be entitled to all

community property (property acquired during marriage) plus one-third of

your separate personal property (property owned before marriage or inherited). Your children would inherit the rest.

  • If there are no children from the marriage or other relationships, then the

surviving spouse is entitled to all community property plus all of the personal property and ½ of any real estate you owned independently.

  • If there’s no surviving spouse, but there are children, they would inherit your entire estate equally.
  • Deceased spouse’s children that are not of the current marriage inherit all of the deceased spouse community property.
  • However, if someone dies without a will and has no spouse or children at the time of death, other family members, such as parents or siblings, may become heirs according to a specific order determined by law.

Wills and Trust in Texas

The distinction between a will and a trust is that a will only become effective upon your passing while a trust is created while you are still living. You sustain control over the trust and all of the assets until you pass away. Once the trust is created, trustees are then appointed.


A Trustee

The person who makes decisions about the money or property in the revocable living trust. They are called the trustees. In general, during the life of the grantor, the grantor is their own trustee. A trustee can be an individual or a financial institution.

A Grantor of a Trust

The grantor (also known as trustor, settlor, or creator) is the creator of the trust relationship and is generally the owner of the assets initially contributed to the trust.

A Texas Will and Testament

A Texas last will and testament is a legal document that should be compiled with the help of a law firm. You’ll also need a designated executor who will be legally responsible for distributing assets and paying off any debts.

A Designated Executor

Probate courts appoint executors, not the deceased person. A deceased person’s will functions as a message to the court, which tells the judge to please appoint this person that I trust to manage my estate. In practice, judges usually do appoint the person named in the will as the executor, but there are many exceptions.

A Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is a legal document that gives someone the authority to make decisions about someone else’s money or property that’s held in a trust.

People set up a revocable living trust in order to give someone else the power to make financial decisions on their behalf, in the event they become unable to because of injury or illness. People also often use trusts to retain control of their property and to designate who will receive money and property once they die.

They can also avoid going through the probate court system.


Probate Courts in Texas

The probate court probates the wills of deceased persons, declares the heirs of deceased persons who die without a will, establishes guardianships for incapacitated persons and minors, supervises court-ordered involuntary mental health commitments, and administers all eminent domain cases initiated in the county the grantor lived.

It’s important to understand that your Will still must go through probate, but it’s so much simpler when you have planned ahead. During probate, a court will first authenticate your Will, and then authorize your Executor to pay all debts and taxes and distribute your remaining property accordingly, per the instructions you leave.

How to avoid Probate Courts in Texas

Avoiding probate in Texas is crucial for the timely distribution of assets, saving money and maintaining privacy. Methods like revocable living trusts, joint ownership, payable-on-death accounts, beneficiary designations and

transfer-on-death deeds offer practical ways to bypass probate.


Texas Inheritance Laws

Texas does not have an inheritance tax or an estate tax.

Creating a Will in Texas

These are the following steps generally occur:

  1. Validating the Will
  2. Appointment of an Executor
  3. Inventory and Appraisal
  4. Payment of Debts and Taxes
  5. Distribution of Assets
  6. Closing the Estate


What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Texas?

If you or a family member dies without a will in Texas, they are said to have died “intestate.” In such cases, the distribution of assets and the administration of the estate follow the laws of intestate succession.

If so, their assets will be divided according to intestate succession laws. Here’s what generally happens:

  1. Appointment of an Administrator
  2. Determination of Heirs
  3. Inventory and Appraisal
  4. Payment of Debts and Taxes
  5. Distribution of Assets

Understanding Texas Homestead Laws and Their Impact on Your Estate Plan.


Texas Homestead Laws are a set of legal provisions that offer protections to

homeowners regarding their primary residence, often referred to as their “homestead.” These laws are designed to safeguard homeowners from certain creditors and provide exemptions and benefits related to property taxes. Texas has some unique and robust homestead laws that grant homeowners specific rights and privileges. Here are key aspects of Texas Homestead Laws:

  1. Protection from Creditors: One of the fundamental aspects of Texas

Homestead Laws is the protection it provides against most creditors. In Texas, a person’s homestead is considered a “protected asset” up to a certain size limit. This means that creditors cannot force the sale of a person’s primary residence to satisfy debts, except in specific circumstances like unpaid property taxes, mortgage liens, or home equity loans.

  1. Unlimited Acreage: Texas is known for having no limit on the amount of land that can qualify as a homestead. This can be especially beneficial for homeowners in rural areas who may have large plots of land.
  1. Urban Homesteads: In urban areas, the size limit for a homestead is typically 10 acres for a single person or family and 200 acres for a family residing in a city or town. This provides protection for homeowners in urban settings as well.
  1. Protection for Surviving Spouses and Heirs: Texas Homestead Laws also offer protection for surviving spouses and heirs. If a homeowner passes away, the surviving spouse or certain heirs may be entitled to continue living in the homestead without fear of eviction, even if there are outstanding debts. 
  1. Property Tax Exemptions: Homesteads in Texas may be eligible for property tax exemptions that reduce the homeowner’s property tax liability.

The primary residence may qualify for a residential homestead exemption, which lowers the taxable value of the property, resulting in lower property taxes.

  1. Home Equity Loans: Texas law allows homeowners to take out home equity loans but with certain restrictions and safeguards. Homeowners must follow specific rules and limitations to tap into their home’s equity, and the loans must adhere to guidelines outlined in the Texas Constitution.
  1. Spousal Rights: In Texas, a spouse’s consent is generally required to sell,

mortgage, or convey the homestead property. This rule exists to protect the

interests of both spouses in a marriage.

  1. Rural homestead Declaration: Rural landowners in Texas may need to file a homestead declaration with their county appraisal district to claim their property as a homestead for tax purposes.

It’s important to note that while Texas Homestead Laws provide significant protections for homeowners, there are exceptions and nuances, and the specifics can vary depending on factors such as the property’s location and its intended use.

It’s advisable for homeowners in Texas to consult with legal professionals or experts in real estate law to fully understand how these laws apply to their individual situations and to ensure they are in compliance with all legal requirements.

To qualify for a homestead exemption, you must submit a homestead application form to the appraisal district in the county where the property is located.

If you are an heir property owner receiving only a partial homestead exemption, you must submit an updated exemption application with the

appraisal district designating the property as heir property in order to qualify for 100% of the exemption. You will need to submit both Form 50-114 and Form 50-114-A.


Please check with an Estate Planning Lawyer

An Estate planning Attorney is about making sure your family understands how you want your assets and affairs to be managed in the event of your death or incapacitation. But starting the process can often seem overwhelming.

That’s where estate planning attorneys come in. These professionals guide you through the ins and outs to help make sure your wishes will be followed such;

  • Preparing a will or other estate planning documents.
  • Identifying your beneficiaries.
  • Establishing limited and/or durable power of attorney (POA).
  • Creating advanced healthcare directives and plans for long-term care
  • Helping you determine the best type of trust for your needs.
  • Establishing trusts to protect and transfer assets before and after your death.
  • Working with your financial advisor to reduce estate tax burdens

through effective tax planning.

  • Identifying ways to avoid the probate process.


The information provided by Peruvian American Association of Corpus Christi Texas on this page is for general informational purposes only. All information on this page is good faith, however we make no representation, we are not attorneys, or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information on this page.



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