When wills make an appearance on TV or in the movies, they’re usually the subject of family drama. So-and-so was left out of the will, or So-and-so was not even born at the time the will was made. This post will deal with the latter situation.
Wills – along with the other documents that make up your estate plan – should be reviewed, as a matter of good practice, after major life events (birth, death, divorce, diagnosis of illness/disease, etc.). Even without a major life event, your estate plan should be reviewed every few years to make sure it is still a good fit.
Parents commonly seek to revise their wills after the birth of a child. But what if a child is born after the will has been drawn up? What happens if the parent passes away prior to being able to revise it to include the child? The answer depends on whether the parent had any other children at the time of his or her passing. Generally speaking, the Texas Estate Code attempts to include an afterborn child in the same inheritance that his siblings receive.
For instance, consider a father who leaves $120,000 for his son (Albert) and daughter (Betty), his grandmother’s diamond ring to his sister and the rest of his estate to his wife. If Albert and Betty were the only two children, they would each receive $60,000. Since the third child, Carrie, has been born after the will was executed, Albert, Betty and Carrie will each receive $40,000.
Now consider the same example above, except that the father did not leave anything to his children. This is where things get a bit trickier. Under Texas statute, Carrie may still inherit what she would be entitled to if her father passed away without a will. Carrie’s mother would still be entitled to receive the remainder of the estate, but Carrie now receives a share of the diamond ring. Because Carrie is one of three siblings, she receives 1/3 of the ring (which will now, obviously, need to be sold in order to be divided). Her aunt will receive the other 2/3 of the ring, per the gift in the will. Albert and Betty receive nothing.
This was likely not what Carrie’s father intended at all. Possibly, he left the remainder of his estate to his wife, thinking she would take care of the children. Regardless of his intentions, his family is now dealing with complications at the time when they need them the very least.
The good news is that wills may be drafted to include children born or adopted after the date that the will is executed. Wills may also include additional provisions to further protect assets inherited by minors or even adults who may need assistance in managing them. Contact Balmos Law today to discuss the options available to protect the people you love.