Published by Jana K. McCown, Attorney
We invited local Estate Planning Attorney, Jana McCown, to share her professional insights on whether you still need a will if you have community property in Texas.
Do I Still Need a Will if I Have Community Property?
It is a common misconception in Texas that if you are married with community property that you do not need to have a will. Many married couples believe that since their home is community property that it will automatically belong to the surviving spouse when the first spouse dies.
Unfortunately, this is not true.
Although there are ways to avoid probate for your community (and separate) property, having a Will provides the safety net needed to be sure that your assets will be passed down to the people that you choose, which may include loved ones, relatives, friends, and even charitable organizations.
A properly prepared Will can save your spouse and children from the confusion and extra expense of having to go through the probate process without a Will. In your Will, you will be able to choose the person who will take responsibility for wrapping up your affairs and collecting and distributing your assets when you die.
You can also designate who will receive those assets, instead of having them divided according to a schedule determined by the State. You can even provide for the management of an inheritance for beneficiaries who may still be minors at the time of your death or who may be disabled or otherwise unable to manage their own finances.
If your loved one dies, and no Will is found, the probate process will involve asking a court to determine who their legal heirs are and appointing someone to serve as the administrator of their estate. An attorney will also need to be appointed to represent “unknown heirs” and conduct an additional investigation to be sure that all the heirs are included, and nobody is left out.
This extra attorney is appointed by the Court but paid for by the estate of the deceased person. In addition to the extra work and expense involved, not having a Will may result in the unintended consequence of dividing assets in a manner that they would not have wanted.
There is no “right age” for needing or having a Will. By preparing a Will you will be leaving your loved ones a final gift, the gift of knowledge that you have prepared for your departure from this Earth by trying to ease the transition after you are gone. What a gift that can be!
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Estate planning can involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Tax laws surrounding estate-planning concepts are subject to change please consult an estate-planning attorney prior to making any financial decisions. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.