My Parent Remarried. Will Their Spouse Inherit Everything?
Nov. 7, 2022
The remarriage of a parent can be emotional for children of any age. You may be happy your parent is sharing their life with someone new. You may be unsure about it. You may or may not get along with the new partner.
Many children in this situation start thinking about the remarried parent’s estate. Will your parent’s new spouse inherit everything? It can be difficult to properly grieve the loss of your parent when worrying about your rights to inherit from them.
What happens to your remarried parent’s estate depends on whether that parent had a will or trust in place at the time of their death. If they did not, what happens becomes a matter for the probate court to decide, using Texas laws as a guide.
At The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC, I help children of remarried parents protect their interests, especially when a parent dies without a will in place. My firm proudly serves clients in Austin, San Marcos, Round Rock, and Georgetown, Texas.
What Happens If My Parent Dies Without a Will?
Texas parents can prohibit their children from inheriting from them if they execute a will or trust and omit their children. If they die without an estate plan, the probate court applies the law of intestate succession to determine who inherits from the estate.
Intestate succession is essentially the order in which spouses and those related to the decedent inherit when the decedent did not express their wishes in a will. Surviving spouses, children, parents, and siblings are all in the line of succession when someone dies without a will.
Dying without a will also forces the estate to be administered through the legal process known as probate. The court appoints an administrator to oversee the payment of debts and distribution of assets subject to court approval. However, the administrator, like the court, is subject to Texas intestate succession law to do so.
What Is Texas Intestate Succession Law?
The assets of an estate that are subject to probate are not necessarily everything the decedent owned at the time of death. Assets with named beneficiaries are transferred directly to the beneficiary without probate review. Examples of these assets would include a vehicle with a title on death, a bank account with a transfer on death, and life insurance policies and investment accounts with named beneficiaries. Trusts are not subject to probate, nor is property the decedent co-owned with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.
Any assets without named beneficiaries are subject to probate, and any assets subject to probate are subject to distribution according to the law of intestate succession.
If a parent dies without a spouse, the children inherit the entire estate. If your parents were married at the time of one parent’s death, your surviving parent would inherit all community property, the right to reside in the home for life, and one-third of the property that belonged to the deceased parent but not the surviving parent. This is referred to as “separate property,” which would include assets such as an inheritance received by one parent or gifts to that parent only. The children would inherit the remainder of the estate.
Remarriage and inheritance rights change the distribution. If your parent remarried, the surviving spouse is entitled to some of the estate, but not all of it. The spouse would be entitled to live in the home for life and receive one-third of any separate property, just as your other parent would have had your parents still been married. However, your non-parent survivor would be receiving only one-half of the community property. You and your siblings, if you have any, would inherit the remainder.
Are Children’s Inheritance Rights in Texas Protected?
One state, Louisiana, observes “forced heirship.” That essentially means a parent is prohibited from disinheriting a child in a will or trust. Because Texas does not recognize forced heirship, a parent can leave whatever they want to whomever they want in an estate plan. In doing so, they can prohibit a child from benefitting from their estate if they choose.
However, when a parent dies without a will or trust, children’s inheritance rights are protected by Texas law, which also protects the inheritance rights of a new spouse.
Turn to Understanding Legal Advice
Death is inherently emotional for those left behind. For those left behind by someone dying intestate, the situation can be even worse. In times like these, you should turn to an experienced and compassionate probate attorney to help you navigate the probate process in Austin, Texas, and the surrounding areas.
The law is designed to protect you. The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC is here to ensure you receive the full benefits of that protection. Call my office now to schedule a consultation.