What Relatives Have the Right to Inherit?

Texas inheritance rights can protect a spouse. This is true even when the other spouse does not include them in the will. It is easier to understand how this works once you understand community property and separate property.

Probate of Community and Separate Property

Separate property is property acquired prior to marriage. It is alsoproperty that is acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Damages that a personal injury lawsuit awards would also be separate property.

Community property is all the other property that either spouse acquires during their marriage. Because Texas is common law property state, spouses own one-half of their community property.

Spouses do not have any rights to separate property except through intestate succession laws. Intestate succession laws are for people who die without leaving a will or trust.

Unfortunately, if your spouse leaves you nothing, then you would have to contest the will through probate court. However, you would at least receive one-half of the community property that you jointly owned.

If you signed a waiver giving up your community property rights, then you would relinquish this right during inheritance.

Texas Inheritance Rights in Community Property Distribution

What if your spouse dies with no will or trust? When an individual dies intestate, the law distributes community property as follows:

  • If there are surviving children who are also children of the surviving spouse, all the community property passes to the surviving spouse.
  • When surviving children are not also children of the surviving spouse, one-half of the community property goes to the children and one-half goes to the surviving spouse.
  • If a surviving spouse is the only survivor (no children) all community property passes to the surviving spouse.
  • Texas law handles all property as separate property when there is no surviving spouse.

The distribution of separate property for intestate succession is a bit more complicated. However, the Texas Bar Association discusses it in a document called the Texas Probate Passport.

Do you have questions or confusions about inheritance rights? An experienced estate planning attorney will gladly answer your questions.