In Texas, even if one did not write a will, the estate will not go to the state (known as "escheat") unless one has no heirs. The estate pays for the costs of searching for heirs, and for the costs associate with the "attorney ad litem" who is an attorney the court appoints to represent missing and unknown heirs. Usually, the court appoints an Administrator to handle the estate. The Administrator must adhere to court supervision and has to apply to the court before taking any action. Once the court has granted the Administrator to take the action, and said action is performed, the Administrator must report to the court about what was actually done. The estate pays for all administration costs. If the deceased is survived by a spouse and children not of the marriage (meaning children of the deceased but not of the surviving spouse) the estate is distributed as follows: The spouse gets onethird of the separate property (both real and personal) and onehalf of the community property (both real and personal.) The children receive twothirds of the separate property (both real and personal) and onehalf of the community property (both real and personal). If the deceased is not survived by children, but is survived by a spouse and the deceased's parents the spouse receives onehalf of the separate real property and all of the separate personal property and community property (both real and personal). The remaining half of the separate real property goes equally to the parents. If they are no longer alive, it goes to the deceased's siblings or sibling's descendants. If the deceased was not married and is not survived by children, but is survived by parents, onehalf of the estate goes to the father and the other half to the mother. (There is no community property in that situation, since community property only deals with property shared by husbands and wives.) If a parent is deceased, that parent's portion is divided amongst the deceased's siblings or sibling's children. If the decease died a widow or widower, but is survived by children, the entire estate is equally divided amongst the children. If the deceased is survived by a spouse and children of the marriage, the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse. Adopted children are treated like naturalborn child and can inherit from both their natural and adoptive parents. Children of the surviving spouse, but not of the deceased, cannot inherit from the estate, unless the deceased adopted them.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.