Consider the following scenario that includes a previous marriage, adoption, estranged children, a new marriage, and an unimaginable outcome.
You married your high school sweetheart. During your marriage you had two children, but then divorced after 5 years. Your ex-wife remarried and her new husband wanted to adopt your two children. After much thought you agreed and signed the adoption paperwork necessary.
You then remarried and were together for 25 years. During your marriage you purchased a house, along with other real estate, cars and personal property items. About 9 months ago, your children reached out to you after 20+ years of no contact. You met with them on one occasion for less than an hour.
You had every intention of getting a Will, but never got around to it. Now, the unthinkable has happened. You have passed away and your wife now has to hire a probate attorney.
Imagine her surprise when she finds out from her attorney that ALL of the assets you owned together, including real estate and cars, bank accounts, investment accounts, DO NOT entirely belong to her. Imagine her surprise when she finds out these assets, including the house, are HALF OWNED by your two children that were adopted out as babies.
Texas has laws that addresses adopted children and estate distributions. Part of Texas Estate Code Sections 201.054 (b) states: "The natural parent or parents of an adopted child and the kindred of the natural parent or parents may not inherit from or through the adopted child, but the adopted child inherits from and through the child's natural parent or parents, except as provided by Section 162.507(c), Family Code."
The bottom line: Speak with a qualified estate planning attorney before the unthinkable happens. Protect your spouse by having the proper documents in place.
However, if find yourself in the situation where your spouse has passed away with a similar situation, you must speak with a qualified probate litigation attorney to understand your rights and who can properly defend you for this type of dispute.
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