Some people reason, “I’m not a millionaire, and I don’t have a complicated family situation. Why do I need a will in Texas?“
A recent news article (“Man was prisoner’s father, not dad” – http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Man-was-prisoner-s-father-but-not-his-dad-2422776.php) exemplifies just how flawed that reasoning can be.
The article shares a story in which a man was wrongly incarcerated for 14 years. Sadly, the man died in prison. Under Texas law, the State is to pay more than $1 million to the man’s estate for the wrongful imprisonment.
If a person dies without a will in Texas, the person’s estate is divided up in accordance with the Texas laws of intestate succession. As many probate lawyers quip, “If you die without a will in Texas, the state of Texas has one for you!” Essentially, this means that Texas law will dictate who will inherit in the absence of a will.
Without a will, the laws of intestate succession can sometimes prove catastrophic. For example, in the story of the wrongfully imprisoned man, the man’s father was supposed to inherit under the law of intestate succession. Unfortunately, the mans’ father was a “deadbeat dad.” The father was absent by the time his son was seven years old.
Through all the years of his son’s wrongful imprisonment, the father was completely absent–and now he’s set to inherit his son’s million-dollar estate.
This sad outcome would have been avoided if the man had a valid Texas Last Will and Testament. With a will, the son could have named his preferred beneficiaries and alternate beneficiaries. He could have gone even further and specifically disinherited his absent father.
The Texas law of intestate succession doesn’t care that the father was absent, and it doesn’t care that the son would never have given his father his million dollar estate.
In Texas, you can use your Last Will and Testament to give away your property to whomever you’d like. There is no law stating that you must give property to family just because they’re family. In fact, the Texas estates code allows you to disinherit someone if you really want to make sure an individual won’t inherit from your estate. Disinheriting people should be done with caution, though, and that’s one of the reasons you should consider talking with a wills lawyer when you’re ready to make your Texas Last Will.
I don’t point all this out to be insensitive to the man who was wrongfully incarcerated–he couldn’t have known that he was going to be wrongfully imprisoned and die before being exonerated–I point this out because most Americans die without a will, and that can have unforeseen consequences. You may think that your estate is small and that you won’t die for decades; however, there’s no guarantee that you will be alive tomorrow or that you’re not about to strike it rich.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on a Texas Last Will and Testament, avoiding probate court in Texas, what to do if someone died without a will in Texas, Texas intestacy, or how to disinherit someone in Texas – or email email@example.com.
You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this blog or to discuss a different legal matter. Phone-calls and quick e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC. Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you’re looking for a Richardson lawyer for probate, Richardson Wills Lawyer, Richardson estate planning attorney, power of attorney in Richardson, TX, or guardianship attorney in Dallas barea.