Sometimes family members pass at or around the same time. Chapter 121 of the Texas Estates Code establishes protocols for situations where a testator (in the case of a will) or an intestate decedent (in the case where there is no will) and beneficiary or heir die simultaneously or in quick succession.
120 Hour Rule
When someone dies with or without a will, the heirs or beneficiaries/devisees must survive the decedent by at least 120 hours or five days to receive property according to the will or intestate succession in Texas. See Texas Estates Code Sec. 121.052 and 121.101. However, in the case of testate succession, should a decedent’s will expressly deal with simultaneous death or deaths in a common disaster, the will governs. See Texas Estates Code Sec. 121.101 (1) and (2).
The Community Property Exception
When both spouses die before either has survived the 120 hour time period, their community property is divided in half, with one half dispensed as if the first spouse had survived, and the other half dispensed as though the other spouse had survived. See Texas estates Code Sec. 121.151.
Determining proper succession can be an emotional, legally complex situation. A lawyer knowledgeable in estate planning and probate law will help a grieving family avoid costly pitfalls while successfully navigating the challenges of settling an estate.
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