Did you intend to disinherit your husband? : Tales From The Trenches

Did you intend to disinherit your husband?

by Barbara Clark on 10/06/12

If you give a child up for adoption that child might inherit your property instead of your spouse.  That happened in a recent case in our office.

In this case a woman who had given up a child for adoption 50 years ago died without a will. This woman (Mrs. X) left a husband to whom she had been married for over 45 years. Because the couple had no children and all of their property was accumulated during this marriage, half of everything this couple built together went to the child given up for adoption.

How could this happen? The law in Texas says that if a person dies without a will and the deceased person has children who are not of the present marriage, then all of the community property of that person goes to his or her children. Texas law also says that a natural child inherits from his or her natural parent unless court documents specifically terminate the inheritance rights of that child.

In this case the stars aligned in favor of the child and the facts established her as the legal heir of her birth mother. Although this is a simplistic view of the case and the husband did have certain rights as a widower, the result of Mrs. X dying without a will was the she disinherited her husband of 45 years.

Remember, if you do not make a will, the State of Texas will make one for you. Over half of Texans die without a will. Will you be one of them?

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   Barbara Priddy Clark

Barbara is a partner in the Clark Law Firm in Dallas,Texas.

She is a transactional Attroney primarily practicing Estate Planning and Probate Law. 

Barbara's Law partner is also her life partner and husband, John Clark, who has a transactional Business Law practice.

Barbara and John are empty nesters with the only children living at home being of the four footed variety (one dog and one cat.)