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There are usually very good reasons to have a Will. You can know that your wishes will be followed. You can know that settling your affairs will cost less money and take less time than applying to the Court to determine who your heirs are and what they should receive.

But sometimes it may not make a difference. In some circumstances your heirs can settle your estate using an Affidavit of Heirship or a Small Estate Affidavit or you can arrange to pass everything outside your probate estate.

You do NOT need a will IF

  • you only leave a home and leave it to your spouse or a minor child or a disabled adult child or your home is exempt from the Texas Medicaid Estate Recovery Program for some other reason;
  • you did not use Medicaid, your only debt is a mortgage on your homestead and you leave no more than $60,000 in personal possessions and household goods and no more than $75,000 in other assets, such as a bank account;
  • you only leave real property deeded to someone in a deed which becomes effective on your death, such as a “Lady Bird” Deed or Transfer on Death Deed, and all your other assets are pay-on-death or transfer-on-death, have a named beneficiary or are held with your spouse “Joint with Right of Survivorship” — and the people whom you named survive you;
  • your estate consists only of financial instruments held pay-on-death, transfer-on-death, have a named beneficiary or are held with your spouse jointly with the right of survivorship and the people whom you named survive you;.
  • you do not mind leaving your heirs the expense and delay of filing an Application for Determination of Heirship.


You DO need a will

  • you have real or personal property — including a community property interest — and your estate does not fall under one of the categories above;
  • you want to choose who settles your affairs;
  • you want to choose who receives specific property or a specific percentage of all or part of your property;
  • there are children not born to or adopted by both you and your current spouse;
  • you have created a trust which is to be partly or fully funded when you die;
  • you have an heir or want to name a beneficiary who sometimes lives in or may move to a state or country with an inheritance tax;
  • you have real estate outside of Texas;
  • you want to avoid the expense and time involved in settling your estate using an Application for Determination of Heirship.

Whether or not you have a Will

Your debts must be paid.

Debts owed you must be collected.

Your property must be distributed.

It’s never too early to plan for your future.

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