Under Section 38 (b) of the Texas Probate Code, a surviving spouse is entitled to the decedent's entire estate if she is the only living descendant. A surviving spouse is entitled to no less than a life estate in any property used as a homestead by the deceased spouse in Texas. The exempt property may include: home furnishings; provisions for consumption; farming and ranching equipment; tools and vehicles used in a trade or profession; clothing; jewelry; two firearms; athletic and sporting equipment; a motor vehicle for each member of the family with a driver’s license; two horses, mules or donkeys and a saddle, blanket and bridle for each; 12 head of cattle; 60 head of other livestock; 120 fowl; and household pets. If you find yourself as the survivor of a deceased spouse, it is important to know your property rights under Texas law. That said, you will likely have to file some taxes on behalf of the deceased, including: To file any of these estate-based returns, you’ll need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. Essentially the surviving spouse, even if title is not vested in the spouse, cannot be made to vacate the homestead property by the heirs of the decedent. In Texas, a married couple can agree in writing that all or part of their community property will go to the surviving spouse when one person dies. As of 2017, though, Texas courts ruled that adopted children receive the same rights to inheritance as biological children, including inheritances from their adoptive parents, grandparents and other family members. The homestead rights and the respective interests of the surviving spouse and children of a decedent are the same whether the homestead was the decedent's separate property or was the community property of the surviving spouse and the decedent. How Much Do I Need to Save for Retirement? If you are trying to sort out your estate or inheritance plans, the SmartAsset advisor matching tool can match you with a financial advisor in your area who can help. Whether the home was separate or community property under family law standards is irrelevant. In Texas, you don’t have to go the traditional marriage route to be considered married by the state. Estates with no will or a will that has not been probated by the Texas courts within four years of the deceased’s death can be inherited via the use of an affidavit of heirship. In recent years, Texas chose to include those adopted as adults in this policy as well. Deathbed marriages refer to when an individual marries someone nearing death, not for love or partnership, but for a stake in his or her estate. The constitution provides the surviving spouse with the right to live in the house for the remainder of his or her lifetime. It exists regardless of whether the marital home is the couple’s community property or the separate property of the deceased spouse. For questions on Texas’ homestead laws as they apply to your particular situation, please call the Houston probate attorneys at Garg & Associates. Managing your own estate, or handling the intricacies of inheriting money from the estate of a loved one who has passed away, includes many complex factors to consider. A “rural homestead” is allotted at 200 acres, and an “urban homestead” is limited to 10 acres. This creates strong rights in the surviving spouse. In the overwhelming circumstance of losing a spouse, many questions arise as to what needs to be done, what probate procedures are necessary, and perhaps most immediately, how the decedent’s survivors will be able to maintain their lives in the absence of the deceased. It’s important to note that if a spouse dies without a will, he or she is said to have died “intestate.” Under Texas’ intestate succession laws, in the absence of a will, trust, prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stating otherwise, a surviving spouse is automatically entitled to a certain share of their deceased spouse… 102.003. If the deceased parent has left no other way to support the child following his or her death, the child will receive part of the estate, regardless of whether he or she was originally named within the will. Personal property consists of items that are not literally fixed to the ground, like cash, vehicles, investments and memorabilia. Texas is a community property state, but its laws are somewhat less simplistic than other community property states. Again, if you have questions about the homestead laws, the exempt personal property set-aside, or other aspects of Texas probate, we invite you to call the Houston Probate attorneys at Garg & Associates. 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