Set up a binder with the following in it:
- Your name: including all nicknames, all variants of your name which you have ever used; and, for women, all married names ever used.
- A copy of your birth certificate.
- A copy of your naturalization papers, and whether you have any entitlements from your country of origin.
- A copy of all marriage certificates, divorce degrees, and/or judgments of annulments.
- A list of all pensions and other payments you are receiving.
- Copies of any funeral files, location of funeral plots, desires for your funeral.
- Names, address, email address and phone numbers of those you wish notified on death.
- Organ donor card if applicable.
- State the location of your will.
These are the ways to say “I love you,” beyond the grave… for true love lasts forever.
You do not want one of your loved ones saying this. You do not want them lost in thought, thinking why they are going through a probate process that may leave them dealing with an outcome they never anticipated. Is anyone ever prepared to die? Death is a part of life, it is the circle of life. We must accept our eventual demise as we accept living each day to the fullest.
Dying without a will is leaving your loved ones with a message that you never intended. It is a message of chaos and insecurity and not knowing what the future holds for them after you are gone.
When someone dies without a will he or she dies intestate. Intestacy means that the deceased died without a plan, without a plan, without a compass, and without leaving his loved ones any messages of comfort in his passing. A failure to plan is a plan for failure.
Statistics say that less than half of all Americans have even the most basic estate planning documents. As a result of this action the last message that their loved ones will hear will be in a Probate court where a Probate judge will parcel out their property and belongings in a manner that was never intended by the deceased. It will be distributed as dictated by the intestacy statutes.
Intestate distribution for single people with no children
- If you are single and die without a will in Texas, the Texas Estates Code says that your assets will be distributed as follows:
- Your estate will pass equally to your parents, if both are living. If only one parent is alive, and you don’t have any brothers or sisters, then your entire estate will pass to your surviving parent.
- However, if you do have siblings or descendants of siblings (nieces and nephews) then your surviving parent would receive only half of the estate, and the remaining one half would be divided among your sibling or their descendants.
All of your estate would pass to your siblings or their descendents if you have no surviving parents.
- If you have no surviving descendants, parents, siblings, or descendant of siblings, then the estate is divided into two halves, with one half passing to relatives on your mother’s side of the family, and the other one half passing to relatives on your father’s side.
If one side of the family has completely died out, the entire estate would pass to the surviving side of the family.
- On rare occasions when an unmarried person dies without and surviving heir, his estate will pass to the State of Texas. Perhaps you have a close friend who you would have wanted to share in your estate. That would not be possible without a will.
Intestate Distribution for those who die unmarried with children
If you are single and have children, then all your property will pass to your descendants. If your descendants are of the same degree of relations,
(meaning, for example, that all are your children or all is your grandchildren). Then the assets will be divided equally between them.
However, if your descendants are of different degrees of relationship, (meaning some of your children predecease you, leaving children or grandchildren of their own). Then the younger would only be entitled only to the share to the older generation would have received had he or she survived.
Intestate Distribution for those who die while married
Many people may assume that if they are married and die without a will in Texas, their surviving spouse will inherit their entire estate. This is not always the case. How their property is divided depends on whether it is characterized as community property or separate property. Further if there are children from a prior marriage, the children from the prior marriage will inherit the community interest of your deceased spouse, which is usually fifty percent of any community property acquired during the marriage.
All property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be community property. Under Texas laws, if you are married and are survived by a spouse and children then:
- Your surviving spouse will inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of your surviving spouse.
- Otherwise all your one-half interest in the community estate will pass to your children, with your spouse keeping only his or her one-half interest.
If you do not have any children, then your surviving spouse will inherit all of your community property.
If your property is characterized as separate property, the distribution scheme is different:
- If you are survived by your spouse and children, your surviving spouse is entitled to one third of your separate personal property and only a life estate (the right to use the property until his o her death) in one-third of your separate real property. The rest would be inherited outright by the children of the deceased spouse.
- If you are married but have no children or other descendants, your surviving spouse would be entitled to all the separate personal property. But it you have surviving parents and siblings, the surviving spouse would only be entitled to one-half of the separate real property with the other half passing to the parents siblings to descendant of siblings in a manner set forth by the statues.
If you want the freedom to decide how and to whom your property will be distributed when you die, you need a will.