Texas Law on Children's Right to Inherit Without a Will: What Are the Rules?

Understanding Intestate Succession in Texas

When an individual passes away without a will in the state of Texas, their estate is distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. These laws serve as a default estate plan, dictating how a decedent's assets should be allocated among surviving relatives. For children, this means that their right to inherit is subject to specific rules outlined by the Texas Estates Code.

Rules for Children's Inheritance

In Texas, if a person dies intestate and has children, the inheritance rights of these children are clearly defined. The distribution of assets depends on whether the children are from the same marriage or different relationships and whether the decedent was married at the time of death.

It's important to note that adopted children have the same rights as biological children under Texas law. However, stepchildren do not automatically inherit unless they were legally adopted by the decedent.

Historical Case Example

An example that illustrates these principles occurred in early 20th-century Texas when a rancher died without a will. He had children from his marriage as well as a child from a prior relationship. The estate's distribution was contested, but ultimately, it was divided according to intestate succession laws, with his spouse receiving her portion and all his children receiving their respective shares.


Navigating inheritance laws can be complex and varies according to individual circumstances. It is always advisable for individuals to create a will to ensure their wishes are honored. For those dealing with an intestate estate in Texas, understanding these rules can provide clarity and assist in managing expectations regarding inheritance rights.

To learn more about intestate succession laws in Texas, visit Texas Estates Code Chapter 201.