Things You Should Know About Inheritance

2 min read

Things You Should Know About Inheritance

Even if you do not own a large estate with acres of rolling hills, trees, and horses, it remains essential to consider your wishes after your death.  We will leave some amount of property and it is important to decide whether you want to leave someone an inheritance or leave it to charity. You must also decide how to leave it, whether by Will, Trust or survivorship account. An estate attorney can help you draft an estate plan that establishes the beneficiaries of your estate after you pass away.

If you die with a Will, you have died testate.  If you die without a will, you have died intestate.  If you are a resident of Texas and you die intestate, the state of Texas “writes a will” for you.  Texas “intestate succession” laws typically follow blood-lines; keeping your property in your family, which includes any child you may legally adopt and even those you do not, but that you treat as a child during their minority.  If you desire to deviate from this succession scheme, you have to execute a Will because the intestacy laws do not change.
You must also know the difference between probate assets and non-probate assets.

Probate assets are assets that remain in the name of the decedent at the moment of death.  Probate assets pass through the Decedent’s Estate and, following administration, inheritance is dictated by Will or intestate succession.

Non-probate assets are assets of the Decedent that pass to a person, persons or an entity named within a contract or beneficiary designation. Non-probate pass outside of the Estate and are not affected by the Will, unless the non-probate property ends up in the Estate; the latter happens when no beneficiary is named on the contract or beneficiary designation.

Examples of non-probate assets are:
  • Joint accounts with right of survivorship
  • Bank accounts with payable-on-death provisions – “POD” Accounts
  • Retirement accounts, like 401(k), pensions or IRAs
  • Proceeds from life insurance
  • Property that belongs to a trust
These concepts must be considered and their application together must be analyzed for any estate plan to be properly planned and created.

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The legal team at Spencer, Johnson, & Harvell, PLLC is ready to assist whether you seek to probate a Will or defend or contest a Will or Trust or file for a guardianship or if you desire to pursue litigation against your fiduciary in Texas. Contact our law offices today for more information on how we can offer help with our decades of experience as Texas estate and trust litigation lawyers.

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Spencer, Johnson & Harvell, PLLC, invites you to contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation regarding your estate and trust matters.

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