Costs of Dying Without a Will
Posted on: October 29th, 2013

The Texas Young Lawyers Association has produced an excellent pamphlet describing the probate process in Texas, as well as the course taken when one dies without a will in the state.

As the Baby Boomers continue to age and eventually pass away, they will be passing on trillions of dollars of wealth to the next generation.  Even if an individual is currently under the estate tax exemption of $5.25 million ($10.5 million for a married couple), there are still compelling reasons to have a comprehensive estate plan in place so that your assets avoid the intestacy process.

In Texas, if a person dies without a will, the law disposes of his or her property through the intestacy laws as set forth by the Texas legislature.  The intestacy laws were designed to provide for the orderly distribution of a person’s property at their death.  However, the law does not take into consideration family and personal relationships that a decedent may have had, but rather distributes assets to individuals based on how closely they were related to the decedent.  Obviously, this could result in undesired results in the way your estate is distributed, and your property may not be distributed in the manner that you wished.  If the most special people in a person’s life are not among those who would be his or her heirs under the intestacy laws, they will not share in the estate if he or she dies without leaving a will.  If an unmarried person dies without a will, friends and roommates will inherit nothing.

Another consideration is the cost and delay of dying without a will.  Texas has one of, if not the best, probate systems in the country – it is relatively easy and inexpensive to administer a decedent’s estate after they are gone, and there is very little court involvement.  On the other hand, dying without a will means that an intestate administration must be opened.  This type of administration is both time consuming and can be very costly.  The administrator will be responsible for tracking down potential heirs, classifying property as community or separate property, and clearing title to real property.  If there are disputes among the heirs at any step along the way, the court will have to resolve the conflict, further delaying the process.

The bottom line is that dying without a will costs time and money, increases family tensions, and delays the grieving process.  Call an estate planning attorney at the McCleskey law firm today to begin the process of executing this important document.  Even if you think you do not have enough assets to justify meeting with an attorney and drafting a will, in the end the time spent doing so can save your loved ones much more money and time after you are gone.

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