Disadvantages of Dying without a Will
If you die without a will, known as intestacy, it won’t be your problem – it will be everyone else’s! If you die without a will, Texas law determines who will inherit your estate. As a result, many issues can arise in the administration of your estate:
Effort Involved in Determining Heirs/Opening Administration
A court proceeding is required to determine heirs of an estate. Since court dockets are often full, this can take many months, especially if it is difficult to locate/determine heirs. A dispute to heirship also creates delays. This process can become expensive quickly with court costs and attorney’s fees. These costs can easily deplete the value of the estate.
Another cost is the bond required to be posted by the Administrator. Unless all beneficiaries waive bond, the court will likely set a bond amount that protects the value of the estate.
Community vs. Separate Property
Texas law directs how property will be distributed amongst the heirs of the decedent. Different rules apply to property that is considered Community or Separate property. The general rule is that all property acquired during marriage is considered community property. However, there are many exceptions. Further, property considered Separate Property could be subject to a reimbursement claim from the community estate beneficiaries. For example if real estate was the separate property of the decedent, but community property funds were used to pay down a mortgage, the community property beneficiaries could be entitled to some reimbursement amount.
These rules clearly complicate the distribution process and will require the administrator of the estate to locate paperwork that may or may not be able to be located.
Unintended Outcomes for Dying without a Will
If the decedent was not close with his family or doesn’t have any family living, his estate may not go to those the decedent would have wanted. Ultimately, the decedent doesn’t get a say who receives their estate, the state of Texas makes that decision.
All these considerations make an estate without a will ripe for conflict, expense, and frustration for all involved.
To avoid these complications, a simple will is all that is needed.