Perhaps the most tedious part of any intestacy application is calculating the interest of the decedent’s heirs. The various rules of intestate succession have wasted time or caused confusion to new practitioners and seasoned veterans alike. Thankfully, Estateably’s court form automation reduces the time needed to draft applications for proceedings to declare heirship.
Why the complexity? Texas law treats separate personal property, separate real property, and community property differently in heirship proceedings. These unique property types are allocated differently depending on the decedent’s marital status, their children’s other parent, and the existence of any predeceased heirs. All these complicated factors need to be considered within any Application to Declare Heirship form. Our court form automation service simplifies the process. After entering the relevant information about the decedent and their heirs, Estateably can calculate the correct allocation on any application.
Estate of James Smith
Let’s explore this feature with the fictional James Smith. James recently passed away intestate, leaving behind his spouse and kin. Using Estateably, the attorney representing his estate’s administrator can seamlessly generate an Application to Declare Heirship ready to submit to the probate court.
First, the user fills out the decedent’s basic information in the app, including whether they had any children from outside their existing marriage. Secondly, they fill out the heirs’ information, including their name, address, and the name of their parent related to the decedent. Here’s an example of James’ spouse Jane.
The estate attorney will repeat this process for all James’ heirs.
Scenario 1: Child Outside Current Marriage
In this case, James Smith passed away leaving behind his wife Jane Smith, his son Jones Smith, and daughter Emily Baker. Emily was born from a previous marriage. After filling out this information, Estateably can correctly list their interest in the estate in the family’s petition to the probate court.
As you can see, Estateably calculates the correct interest of the heirs for each type of property. Jane receives a 1/3rd life estate in the separate real property, while the children gain half in true interest. The separate personal property is evenly split between all three. Finally, James’ portion of the community property has been correctly divided between Jones and Emily, since Emily was a child outside of James and Jane’s marriage.
Scenario 2: Inheriting Grandchildren
Now let’s pretend that all of James’ children, including Emily, were from his marriage with Jane Smith. Unfortunately, Jones Smith had passed away before James, leaving behind three grandchildren. Estateably will take into account the impact of a predeceased heir.
The estate attorney fills in the same information as before, but this time includes Jones’ date of death. For the grandchildren, the attorney inputs the name of their parent related to James (the decedent). In this example, the three grandchildren would have:
Now we have a more extensive list of all of James’ heirs.
With just one click, the attorney can generate the Application to Declare Heirship form that uses the following table!
The application takes Jones out of the list of heirs and inserts his children and their interest instead. Each grandchild receives a third share of Jones’ entitlement, which amounts to 1/6th of the separate real property and 2/18ths of his separate personal property. Finally, Jane Smith inherits all of the community property since all the inheriting children are her own. The attorney can then edit any incomplete or extra information on the .docx form themselves.
Drafting application forms and calculating interests has never been easier. Our automated heirship application & calculations is the perfect fit for any high-volume wills and estates practice. Discover all the other ways our software can save you hours per file.
Ready to see it in action? Book a demo today to get started.