When you die without a Will, you are said to have died intestate. And, contrary to popular belief, the State of Texas does not automatically receive your estate. An intestate estate is distributed in accordance with the laws of descent and distribution as outlined in the Texas Estates Code.
Texas Heirship Proceedings
An heirship proceeding is generally used to determine and declare the heirs of the estate and to divide the estate in terms of community and separate property. Typically, heirship proceedings are initiated in the following circumstances:
- There is no Will and there is a necessity to declare the Decedent’s heirs and their respective shares of the estate (no necessity for administration of the estate).
- There is no Will and there is a necessity to declare the Decedent’s heirs and their respective shares of the estate (necessity for an administration of the estate and within 4 years of Decedent’s death).
- When a Will does not dispose of all of the estate assets.
- When a Ward of a guardianship passes away without a Will.
Any heir can initiate the heirship proceeding but all of the heirs are entitled to notice. Unknown heirs receive notice by way of publication and posting. Unknown heirs are also represented by an Attorney Ad Litem and witnesses are required for testimony in Court. Once the heirship is established and if necessary, the declared heirs can agree to an administration and a representative can be appointed to administer the estate.
The laws of descent and distribution can be confusing and the complexity of each intestacy situation varies. A careful analysis of your heirship matter with a Probate Attorney is recommended.
To speak to a Houston Probate Attorney about your probate or heirship matter, please contact Stephanie Mudgett Boates at 281 584-0034.