How do I claim my inheritance Texas

How do I claim my inheritance Texas

Claiming an inheritance in Texas

An inheritance can never compensate for the death of a family member. But inheritance is not about greed; it is about custody and control of your property.

Claiming an inheritance in Texas is usually straightforward if you are a named beneficiary in the will. The executor or administrator named in the will and appointed by the court gathers the property, pays the debts of the estate, and distributes the property to the beneficiaries. As a beneficiary, you do not normally need to do anything.

Problem – no will

Problems develop when there is no will, or you feel the will was unfair.

If there is no will, the court must determine who are the beneficiaries and what part of the estate they each own. Often, if you are not close to your relative who passed away, the local family will “forget” to tell the court that you are an heir. If you are illegitimate, the family may try to prevent you from receiving your inheritance. And, if you just discovered your relative through DNA, that brings up a new set of problems that you will need help with.

If there is an unfair will that has been offered for probate, you will need to contest that will.

Problem – Who are the heirs.

If there is no will or if there is a will that doesn’t dispose of all of the property, then the property goes to the decedent’s heirs. Who those heirs are and getting them their inheritance requires an attorney who handles inheritance disputes.

The local family may forget to mention an heir, they may try to keep a distant heir from receiving their property, and heirs found through DNA cause other problems. In all these cases, the heir needs to have an attorney helping them obtain custody and control of their property.

How long does a beneficiary have to claim their inheritance?

If there is a will, a contest must be filed with two years of the date the will was admitted to probate. Not two years from death but two years from the date the will was admitted to probate.

If there is no will, or the will doesn’t dispose of all of the property, then an heirship proceeding needs to be filed. There is no time limit to file an heirship proceeding unless the decedent died before January 14, 2014. In that case, you need to talk to an attorney who is familiar with heirships to see if you can still file for your heirship.

How to resolve inheritance disputes?

Many inheritance disputes can be settled. We try to settle a case if possible because of the uncertainty of jury trials. But, when a case can’t be settled, we are experienced trial attorneys with many years of experience.

Remember

The property you inherit is your property. You are not trying to get something from someone else. You just want custody and control of your property.

Slayer Rule and Insurance in Texas

Many states have a “Slayer Rule.” The Slayer Rule is a stature or rule that a person who kills a person from whom they inherit forfeits the inheritance.

Texas does not have the Slayer Rule. There are ways to get around the fact that Texas doesn’t have a Slayer Rule that is covered here. The slayer can be denied his inheritance as pointed out in that article.

However, Texas does have a Slayer Rule that only applies to insurance policies. This post discusses that rule.

In 2021 the court of appeals heard a case dealing with insurance and the Slayer Rule, 01-19-00799-CV. TEX. INS. CODE §§ 1103.151, 1103.152.

In this case, a son had killed his parents with a sledgehammer in their driveway. The son was arrested for capital murder but was found incompetent to face trial. The father had a policy on his life. The beneficiary was the wife and if she wasn’t around, the proceeds of the policy would go to the son, the killer. The father’s brother, the next of kin to the father, asked that the proceeds be paid to him. The trial court had entered judgment for the Estate of the father and the brother appealed. The appeals court sided with the brother and sent the case back to the trial court to have the jury determine several issues.

The first issue is—did the son’s incompetence mean that he could not ‘willfully” slay or kill his parents; and was the brother truly the next of kin or were there other brothers and sisters.

Slayer Rule cases are not easy and there are many issues to be considered. This case dealt with insurance which has a special statute while other cases deal with non-insurance issues and what can be done to prohibit the slayer from benefitting from his crime.

Does a Spouse Inherit if the Other Spouse Dies Intestate Without a Will

Does a Spouse Inherit if the Other Spouse Dies Intestate Without a Will

Texas Law

Does a spouse inherit if the other spouse dies intestate without a will? That simple question cannot be answered with a simple answer. It can’t be answered simply because there are so many factors:

  • Are there children and are they children of both parents? See here, and here.
  • What kind of property is involved? See here.

Texas recognizes common-law marriages or what Texas refers to as” informal” marriages. How does that affect inheritance rights. See here and here.

Because these issues are complicated, you need to discuss your rights with an attorney who understands inheritance laws.

Can a murderer inherit his victim’s property?

Can a murderer inherit his victim’s property?

Texas Slayer Rule

Affirmative Action Required

The Texas State Constitution has a provision that says “”No conviction shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture of estate.” The Texas Estates Code §201.058 (Probate Code §41(d)) is similar. Those two provisions have been interpreted to allow a murderer to inherit from his victim. However, the courts have allowed the heirs of the victim to file suit against the murderer and to impose a constructive trust on any property he might receive from the victim. The practical effect of the constructive trust is to deny the murderer the inheritance from the victim.

If the heirs of the victim do nothing, the murderer receives his inheritance. If the heirs of the victim file suit in court, the courts will impose a constructive trust on the inheritance which effectively denies the inheritance to the murderer.

Insurance policies are different. The murderer does not inherit the proceeds from an insurance policy since there is a special statute that deals with insurance policies. That statute denies payment of the proceeds to the person who causes the death of the insured.

See another article on the this topic including the “Slayer’s Rule.”

PEARLS OF WISDOM: If someone is ever in a position where the Texas slayer rule is involved and a murderer is going to profit from his misdeed, affirmative action is required to prevent the murderer from inheriting the victim’s property. Compare 287 S.W.2d 546 with 68 S.W.3d 242.

Can Parents, Siblings, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces and Nephews Inherit?

Can Parents, Siblings, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces and Nephews Inherit?

In Texas Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and others are heirs for the purpose of distributing the estate of the deceased if he died intestate and if the deceased had no spouse or children. Even if the deceased had a spouse but no children, the other relatives may be entitled to some of the property. The rule is, if you can’t go down the family tree, you go up then out on to the branches to determine who inherits.

If you have questions about your inheritance rights and would like to talk to an estate planning attorney or a lawyer who is familiar with inheritance and probate law to advise you about your inheritance rights, click on the “Contact Us” tab at the top.

How To Revoke A Trust In Texas

How can you revoke a trust in Texas?

In a recent case in Texas, a mother and father had a trust for the benefit of their two children. The mother died. The father later remarried and had two additional children. The father attempted to revoke the first trust and made provisions for the property to go to his four children, share and share-alike. When the father died, one of the first two children asked the court to declare that the revocation of the first trust was invalid. The court agreed stating: (more…)

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