Many people do not understand the verbiage used in wills and probate and/or what type of things one can leave in a will. Firstly, it is important to know the process. A decedents property passes immediately to the beneficiaries. If no will exists, then the property passes immediately to the heirs at law. The Courts intervene as a way of transfer of ownership. They will either prove-up the will in Court or identify the heirs if no will exists. This ensures the rights of the family are protected.
What are Heirs and Heirs at Law?
The verbiage is generally listed as a decedents heirs and/or heirs at law. This simply means that it would first pass to your heirs (whomever you have chosen). If no heir is specified in your will or if you do not have a will. then your property would be given to your spouse, then to your children, then your childrens spouse, then your grandchildren. If you have multiple children. Lets say 3 children, 1 child has passed. The assets would be split in 3 ways between the children. The one-third portion that was set to go to your deceased child would then be split between that child’s children. This is the general terminology in wills. If you want any of this changed to be more specific you can do so with a custom will. Mayfield Law Office can help with this.
Types of Property in Wills and Probate
Separate Property is that which is owned before marriage. It can also include gifts received or inherited during marriage.
Community property is all remaining property that is not separate property.
So what qualifies as property in wills and probate? It includes real property such as, land, land improvements, and mineral rights. It also includes personal property such as, cash, bank accounts, clothing, home furnishings, automobiles, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, and retirements accounts. It is important to note, that many benefit policies will be administered to the beneficiary listed on the account. This property will not be dispersed to heirs if a beneficiary exists. A will also cannot settle any non-probate assets
Non-Probate Assets include:
Property passing by contract (life insurance, IRA’s employee benefits), property passing by survivor-ship (joint bank accounts, joint stocks and bonds, and savings bonds), and property held in trust (trusts created by the decedent prior to death to care for another).
To learn more about Wills and Probate in Texas see the Texas State Law Library.
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