Everyone should have a will.
Many people are under the mistaken belief that because they make modest incomes, have no investments, no real property, no business, and no children, they don't need a Last Will & Testament. I'm here to demonstrate that this idea is very wrong. A Last Will & Testament is essential for everyone in almost every scenario because without one, the state is allowed to distribute your belongings after you die. You have no control whatsoever of what happens to your property if you decide to forgo a will.
You may be thinking, well if I don't own anything, I don't have anything to worry about, right? Not necessarily. Just because you don't own anything today does not mean your circumstances may not change. You may get married and become entitled to what's known as community property through your spouse, or you may have any number of life events that change your life financially, such as inheriting property from a loved one, or (luckily) winning the lottery.
Even if you don't own very much, shouldn't you be able to decide what happens to your meager belongings if you should suddenly pass away? In Texas and many other states, there are default rules for people who die without a will in place. Those default rules are known as intestate succession laws. Essentially, those laws determine who gets your stuff and how much of it, based on whether or not you are married, have children, or any family members living after your death. These laws get very complicated and cover not just immediate family, like your parents and siblings, but aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandparents. However, intestate succession laws simply identify who is entitled to your property. Your family still has to go through a court proceeding to address administrative duties such as changing the property currently in your name to someone else's and ensuring that all remaining costs, taxes, and fees associated with your estate are paid.
In the event that no one is available to claim your property because you don't have a will and your family members cannot be found, your belongings “escheat” or transfer to the State of Texas. This is a common law doctrine that basically entitles the state to take ownership of your property to prevent it being in limbo and without a recognized rightful owner. Isn't that depressing?
In order to identify who you'd like to take possession of your belongings, it is imperative that you draft a will. Otherwise, you are leaving quite a bit to chance. To begin the process of planning your estate, please contact an experienced attorney. The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss would be glad to help you in this process. We can be reached at 713-574-8626 and [email protected]. Make an appointment today!