Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

How probate works when someone dies without a will in Texas

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2023 | probate administration

The probate court follows Texas Intestate Succession statutes when an individual dies without a will. The deceased’s assets get distributed based on whether the individual left behind a surviving spouse or children.

According to, when a married couple does not have any children, the surviving spouse may inherit all their community property. If the deceased has biological or adopted children from a previous marriage, the court may distribute the deceased’s half of the couple’s community property to those surviving children.

The court divides property between a spouse and children

As noted by SmartAsset, when a couple has children together, all the deceased’s community property goes to the surviving spouse. When dying with land, the surviving spouse inherits half and the surviving children may inherit the other half.

If a person dies with separate property such as gifts or assets bought before marriage, the surviving spouse may only inherit one-third. The remaining two-thirds could then get divided evenly between the deceased’s children or grandchildren.

An administrator may file and pay the deceased’s taxes

By not creating a will, the probate court may appoint an administrator to handle the deceased’s estate. The administrator may then sell the estate’s property to pay off the deceased’s final state and federal income taxes.

If the deceased has outstanding loan or credit card bills, creditors may file claims to recover from the estate’s assets. The remaining property then gets distributed under the Lone Star State’s intestate system, which applies when no will exists.

Without a surviving spouse, the deceased’s surviving children or parents may stand to inherit the deceased’s assets. When the court cannot locate the surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings may inherit the property instead. Anyone may, however, contest the intestate distribution process by filing a claim through the probate court.