If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Texas, you are said to have died "intestate." In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Texas has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Texas Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.
PERSONS WHO TAKE UPON INTESTACY
(a) Intestate Leaving No Husband or Wife. Where any person, having title to any estate, real, personal or mixed, shall die intestate, leaving no husband or wife, it shall descend and pass in parcenary to his kindred, male and female, in the following course:
1. To his children and their descendants.
2. If there be no children nor their descendants, then to his father and mother, in equal portions. But if only the father or mother survive the intestate, then his estate shall be divided into two equal portions, one of which shall pass to such survivor, and the other half shall pass to the brothers and sisters of the deceased, and to their descendants; but if there be none such, then the whole estate shall be inherited by the surviving father or mother.
3. If there be neither father nor mother, then the whole of such estate shall pass to the brothers and sisters of the intestate, and to their descendants.
4. If there be none of the kindred aforesaid, then the inheritance shall be divided into two moieties, one of which shall go to the paternal and the other to the maternal kindred, in the following course: To the grandfather and grandmother in equal portions, but if only one of these be living, then the estate shall be divided into two equal parts, one of which shall go to such survivor, and the other shall go to the descendant or descendants of such deceased grandfather or grandmother. If there be no such descendants, then the whole estate shall be inherited by the surviving grandfather or grandmother. If there be no surviving grandfather or grandmother, then the whole of such estate shall go to their descendants, and so on without end, passing in like manner to the nearest lineal ancestors and their descendants.
(b) Intestate Leaving Husband or Wife. Where any person having title to any estate, real, personal or mixed, other than a community estate, shall die intestate as to such estate, and shall leave a surviving husband or wife, such estate of such intestate shall descend and pass as follows:
1. If the deceased have a child or children, or their descendants, the surviving husband or wife shall take one-third of the personal estate, and the balance of such personal estate shall go to the child or children of the deceased and their descendants. The surviving husband or wife shall also be entitled to an estate for life, in one-third of the land of the intestate, with remainder to the child or children of the intestate and their descendants.
2. If the deceased have no child or children, or their descendants, then the surviving husband or wife shall be entitled to all the personal estate, and to one-half of the lands of the intestate, without remainder to any person, and the other half shall pass and be inherited according to the rules of descent and distribution; provided, however, that if the deceased has neither surviving father nor mother nor surviving brothers or sisters, or their descendants, then the surviving husband or wife shall be entitled to the whole of the estate of such intestate.
DETERMINATION OF PER CAPITA AND PER STIRPES DISTRIBUTION
When the intestate's children, descendants, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or any other relatives of the deceased standing in the first or same degree alone come into the distribution upon intestacy, they shall take per capita, namely: by persons; and, when a part of them being dead and a part living, the descendants of those dead shall have right to distribution upon intestacy, such descendants shall inherit only such portion of said property as the parent through whom they inherit would be entitled to if alive.
(a) On the intestate death of one of the spouses to a marriage, the community property estate of the deceased spouse passes to the surviving spouse if:
(1) no child or other descendant of the deceased spouse survives the deceased spouse; or
(2) all surviving children and descendants of the deceased spouse are also children or descendants of the surviving spouse.
(b) On the intestate death of one of the spouses to a marriage, if a child or other descendant of the deceased spouse survives the deceased spouse and the child or descendant is not a child or descendant of the surviving spouse, one-half of the community estate is retained by the surviving spouse and the other one-half passes to the children or descendants of the deceased spouse. The descendants shall inherit only such portion of said property to which they would be entitled under Section 43 of this code. In every case, the community estate passes charged with the debts against it.
REQUIREMENT OF SURVIVAL BY 120 HOURS
(a) Survival of Heirs. A person who fails to survive the decedent by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the decedent for purposes of homestead allowance, exempt property, and intestate succession, and the decedent's heirs are determined accordingly, except as otherwise provided in this section. If the time of death of the decedent or of the person who would otherwise be an heir, or the times of death of both, cannot be determined, and it cannot be established that the person who would otherwise be an heir has survived the decedent by 120 hours, it is deemed that the person failed to survive for the required period. This subsection does not apply where its application would result in the escheat of an intestate estate.
(b) Disposal of Community Property. When a husband and wife have died, leaving community property, and neither the husband nor wife survived the other by 120 hours, one-half of all community property shall be distributed as if the husband had survived, and the other one-half thereof shall be distributed as if the wife had survived. The provisions of this subsection apply to proceeds of life or accident insurance which are community property and become payable to the estate of either the husband or the wife, as well as to other kinds of community property.
(c) Survival of Devisees or Beneficiaries. A devisee who does not survive the testator by 120 hours is treated as if he predeceased the testator, unless the will of the decedent contains some language dealing explicitly with simultaneous death or deaths in a common disaster, or requiring that the devisee survive the testator or survive the testator for a stated period in order to take under the will. If property is so disposed of that the right of a beneficiary to succeed to any interest therein is conditional upon his surviving another person, the beneficiary shall be deemed not to have survived unless he or she survives the person by 120 hours. However, if any interest in property is given alternatively to one of two or more beneficiaries, with the right of each to take being dependent upon his surviving the other or others, and all shall die within a period of less than 120 hours, the property shall be divided into as many equal portions as there are beneficiaries, and those portions shall be distributed respectively to those who would have taken in the event that each beneficiary had survived.
(d) Joint Owners. If any real or personal property, including community property with a right of survivorship, shall be so owned that one of two joint owners is entitled to the whole on the death of the other, and neither survives the other by 120 hours, these assets shall be distributed one-half as if one joint owner had survived and the other one-half as if the other joint owner had survived. If there are more than two joint owners and all have died within a period of less than 120 hours, these assets shall be divided into as many equal portions as there are joint owners and these portions shall be distributed respectively to those who would have taken in the event that each joint owner survived.
(e) Insured and Beneficiary. When the insured and a beneficiary in a policy of life or accident insurance have died within a period of less than 120 hours, the insured shall be deemed to have survived the beneficiary for the purpose of determining the rights under the policy of the beneficiary or beneficiaries as such. The provisions of this subsection shall not prevent the application of subsection (b) above to the proceeds of life or accident insurance which are community property.
(f) Instruments Providing Different Disposition. When provision has been made in the case of wills, living trusts, deeds, or contracts of insurance, or any other situation, for disposition of property different from the provisions of this Section, this Section shall not apply.
OTHER INTESTACY STATUTES
There are additional statutes pertaining to the distribution of intestate property in the State of Texas. To view those statutes, please click here.
[Reference - Texas Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession].