INHERITANCE RIGHTS IN TEXAS—HOW TO OBTAIN THEM

INHERITANCE RIGHTS IN TEXAS—HOW TO OBTAIN THEM

Background

Heirship proceeding are different from will contest.

This article deals with getting property that is yours based on an inheritance. This may occur where a person dies without a will. It can also occur where there is a will but the will leaves property to the decedent’s “children” or his “heirs” or something similar without identifying the children or heirs by name. It may occur when there is a will but someone has taken your inheritance without your knowledge or when you didn’t know about your inheritance. This is different from a will contest where you are trying to prove your inheritance.

Let us say an heir finds out that a relative died some years back and that they may have some inheritance rights. What can they do? Is the statute of limitations a problem?

This situation may arise because a child was unborn or was an infant when the facts occurred. It may be that the child is illegitimate or only recently learned through DNA who their relatives were. It can also arise when other heirs, not just children, discover their potential inheritance.

There is currently no statute of limitation on heirship proceedings if the decedent died after January 1, 2014. If the decedent died before that date, there may or may not be a limitation problem depending on the circumstances. This is complicated, involving heirship proceedings (trial brief), but there is a possibility that it can be done.

Don’t get this limitation period confused with the two-year limitation period for contesting a will. This article deals with heirship and not with contesting wills. And if the facts are in your favor and the case is properly handled the limitation of those dying before January 1, 2014 may be avoided. In a recent case, the decedent died in 1972. Her heirs didn’t file any proceedings until 2013 when they filed a suit to get their inheritance. The statute of limitations was not a problem because of the facts and how the case was handled.

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DNA test. I just discovered my father (parents) what now?

DNA test. I just discovered my father (parents) what now?

With the advent of DNA testing kits that are prevalent today, many people, who do not know who their parents are, search for them through DNA databases. They will sometime find information on an unknown parent, grand parent, etc.. What does that mean as far as inheritance?

If a person leaves a will, the will determines who inherits his property. Texas does not have forced heirship – a person has to leave some of his property to his children. In Texas, like most states, you do not have to leave anything to your children. What that means is, if the person leaves a will that disposes of all of his property, no one will inherit except those named in the will. That doesn’t change based on the fact that he may have had children that he didn’t know. If the will leaves property to his “children” or his “descendants” or his “heirs” or something similar without naming who they are, the children who are searching for their parent may be entitled to a share of the property. A person must first determine if there is a will and what the will says. When a will is filed for probate, it is filed with the county clerk in the county where the decedent resided. Once filed, it is a public record and anyone can get a copy.

What if the person dies intestate meaning he dies without a will? In that case, his heirs which include his children will inherit his estate, generally. Depending on when the person died, the wife may inherit all of his community property but the separate property would go to his heirs (his children) with some exceptions.

One big problem with these cases is paternity. If the child seeking their parent was not acknowledged by the parent and the issue of paternity is to be decided by a court, there may be time limits involved. The further back in time it has been since the parent died, the more difficult the process may be.

The issues surrounding these cases need to be discussed with an attorney.

Update: I have posted a podcast about this subject. You can listen to it on most podcast platforms. Here are a few: Spotify or Anchor

Contesting a will in Texas

Zoom type workshops?

In the age of Covid-19. we have been thinking of having monthly or bi-monthly, free, Zoom type workshops where participants discuss with us issues that are of interest to them. There would be no agenda, we would discuss areas that the participants wanted to discuss. Participants could attend by computer, tablet or smartphone.

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