Austin Texas Estate Planning Blog

Will In-Laws Inherit If I Don't Have a Will?

Will In-Laws Inherit If I Don't Have a Will?

June 11, 2023 • | Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC
When someone passes away, whether unexpectedly or not, it can raise questions about who will inherit what. Specifically, you might be wondering whether in-laws have a right to any of the assets of the deceased person.

Inheritance laws and estate planning can be complex and often raise questions about who will inherit your assets when you pass away. One such question frequently arises: "Will my in-laws inherit if I don't have a will?" The answer to this question is not straightforward and depends on several factors, including state inheritance laws, the structure of your family, and your wishes.

State inheritance laws generally prioritize spouses, children, and other blood relatives to inherit ahead of in-laws. This means that your assets will typically distribute to your closest relatives in the absence of a will. However, how these individuals manage their share of an inherited estate can ultimately determine whether an in-law receives any assets.

A recent article by Yahoo, titled "Can I Leave Inheritance Money to In-Laws?" provides a helpful explanation of state inheritance laws. According to the article, the individuals considered estate heirs are typically directly related to the decedent by marriage, blood, or adoption. The inheritance hierarchy under state law usually includes spouses, children, siblings, parents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and cousins in that order of priority.

However, there is a scenario where an in-law may inherit a portion of an estate. If an in-law is married to a direct estate heir, they may indirectly benefit from the inheritance. This is because the assets inherited by the direct heir could be shared with their spouse, the in-law.

If you wish to leave assets to your in-laws to inherit, you have the power to do so. The most straightforward way to ensure this happens is to specify your wishes in your will. You can detail which assets you want your in-laws to inherit. Alternatively, you could consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about creating a trust to give assets to your in-laws. A trust can provide more control over how and when your assets distribute.

Sometimes, you may want to leave something to a son or daughter-in-law to inherit. However, there may be circumstances where you would prefer to exclude them from inheriting altogether. To protect an inheritance from in-laws, you can create a trust that allows you to leave assets to family members. The trust can also specify that anyone not a blood relative, can be excluded from receiving assets.

Another option to consider is a prenuptial agreement for your child. This agreement can include terms that dictate how assets you pass on to your child should be handled during your lifetime and beyond. If your child is already married, you could suggest a postnuptial agreement. This document would dictate what happens to their assets (and anything they've inherited from you) in the event of a divorce. Requiring a prenuptial agreement would scope how your in-laws might inherit from you, if at all.

Every family situation is unique, and you might have questions about where in-laws fit into your estate plan. It's important to remember that estate planning is a personal process that should reflect your wishes and your family's needs. Therefore, it's advisable to consult with an experienced Austin estate planning attorney to discuss your specific circumstances and ensure your estate plan meets your specific objectives.

Reference: Yahoo (Jan. 8, 2023) "Can I Leave Inheritance Money to In-Laws?"

Law Office of Zachary D Kamykowski, PLLC

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