Intestate Succession: What Every Texas Estate Planner Needs to Know

22 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2010 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018

See all articles by Gerry W. Beyer

Gerry W. Beyer

Texas Tech University School of Law

Date Written: February 9, 2018


The ability to specify the new owners of property upon death is an important and powerful privilege that each state grants to its citizens. The odds are, however, that you have not executed a will and if so, you would be in good company. Many famous and wealthy people have died intestate including President Abraham Lincoln and Texas billionaire Howard Hughes. Surveys reveal that between 60-75% of Americans die intestate. Intestacy causes the decedent’s property to pass to those individuals whom the state government believes the decedent would have wanted to receive the decedent’s probate estate upon death. None of the decedent’s family members or friends are allowed to present evidence to show that the decedent actually wanted his or her property to pass to them or to a charity.

After a brief historical background, this article focuses on the intestate distribution scheme applicable to the personal property of a Texas domiciliary and the Texas real property of any intestate. The article explains the different schemes for an unmarried intestate (individual property) as well as for a married intestate (community property and separate property). Examples are also provided so readers can practice their ability to determine the correct heirs and the amount they inherit.

The article also looks at how a wide variety of individuals fit, or do not fit, into the intestacy scheme such as posthumous heirs, adopted children, half-blooded collateral heirs, and unworthy heirs. The article concludes by examining a variety of other issues which may impact intestate distribution such as survival, disclaimer, advancements, and equitable conversion.

Suggested Citation

Beyer, Gerry W., Intestate Succession: What Every Texas Estate Planner Needs to Know (February 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Gerry W. Beyer (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )

3311 18th Street
Lubbock, TX 79409-0004
United States
806-834-4270 (Phone)
978-285-7941 (Fax)


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