When a person dies without a will in Texas, inheritance and distribution of that person’s property is determined by Texas law. Generally, property is inherited by relatives and depends on how closely the relative was related. Families with adopted and/or stepchildren need to consider who will inherit if a family member dies without a will.
A stepchild that is not legally adopted by the stepparent will not inherit from the stepparent if that stepparent dies without a will. This is because an un-adopted stepchild is not considered to be legally related to that stepparent. This result is often not what was wished or intended by a stepparent who raised a stepchild. For a stepchild to inherit from a stepparent, the stepparent should either adopt the child, or prepare a will with instructions that the stepchild should inherit.
An adopted child can inherit property when an adoptive parent dies without a will. An adopted child is treated the same as a natural born child. A child who is adopted as a minor can also inherit property from his or her natural parents, but an adult who is adopted may not inherit from his or her natural parents.
Natural parents cannot inherit from an adopted child or adult if the adopted person dies without a will. This can be important if an adopted child seeks out the identity of his or her natural parents and rekindles the relationship.
Blog by Austin Attorney Sarah F. Berry