When it comes to estate planning, the cheapest option is to simply do nothing. But doing nothing can turn into a headache down the road for family and loved ones.

For instance, Husband wishes to leave all of his property, including the home they share, to Wife. He decides that this is simple enough that he does not need a will. Husband passes away. Wife lives in the home for a few years until she decides that she needs daily assistance. Wife now wants to sell the home to pay for rent and expenses in an assisted living facility.

Husband’s interest in the home transfers to Wife upon Husband’s death by virtue of the intestacy statutes in Texas. But, without a process like probate, the title to the home remains in the name of Husband and Wife. Title company will not approve the sale because Husband’s name is still on the title. Wife must now begin proceedings to transfer title. Not surprisingly, these proceedings require both time and money.

What’s interesting is that a failed will – any document that doesn’t meet the requirements set forth in the statutes – is treated as if it does not exist at all. Not only does that mean that the proceedings to transfer title are more expensive and complex, it also means that the intestacy statutes apply – not the wishes set out in the will.