A will is a legal document you use to state who receives your property upon your death. It is common to directly give property to a beneficiary or you may place it into a trust for the beneficiary, especially if the beneficiary is a minor.
Not all your property will pass through your will. Typically, automobiles, tangible personal property, bank accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, and real property will pass under a will unless they contain a right of survivorship clause. Right of survivorship means the property states that it will pass to the co-owner of your property as the last surviving owner.
Property that usually does not pass under your will includes your spouse’s half of any community property. In other words, you only own half of the community property and can only give away your half. If you attempt to dispose of your spouse’s half of community property, they can reclaim it. Other property that does not pass under a will includes your employer provided retirement plan, IRAs and life insurance proceeds.
If you name your minor child as a beneficiary in your will or you do not have a will, then your minor child may inherit some or all your property. In that case, the guardian of your minor child will have control over the child’s inheritance. Therefore, it may be prudent to have a will that includes a trust for a minor child, so the property can be protected from misuse.
In Texas, if you die without a will, the state determines who receives your property. Some people may be surprised to learn that your spouse may not receive all your property if you die without a will. Texas has specific rules for specific circumstances when you die without a will. Different divisions occur depending on whether you are married, have children with your current spouse or from a previous relationship or have no children, have one parent alive or both parents alive, have siblings or nephews and nieces.
There is also a difference in how the State divides your real property, such as real estate, and personal property, like furniture, jewelry, guns. It can be confusing and dying without a will could result in your spouse or your children not inheriting the property you wanted them to receive.
Contact the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr. to get affordable legal assistance drafting your will consistent with your wishes. Our estate planning attorney travels within 50 miles of San Antonio, Texas or provides your documents through a secure web portal.