By Texas law, when there is no common-law contract nor legal marriage, who has most rights to belongings when one of them dies?

Asked over 5 years ago - Muleshoe, TX

A man recently died intestate and the woman he has lived with, but was never married to under any contract, is claiming she has rights to all of his belongings and property instead of his two adult children. The couple mentioned owned no common property, nor did they have any joint bank accounts or bills that they jointly paid. The man had stated that he wished to be buried by his ex-wife, the mother of his children, and this supposedly started this war concerning assets. The man was in constant contact with his two adult children, had no animousity toward them. his property was purchased well before the couple moved in together. She is also claiming she has all rights to his 401k, as well as his life insurance, although she was not named as beneficiary on either.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Lu Ann Trevino

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . These comments are made for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists between us.

    The insurance and 401k go to the designated beneficiaries and nothing will change that. To get your father's property, the woman would have to prove a common law marriage by proving the parties intend to be married, lived together as man and wife, and held themselves out to the public as man and wife. No set length of time is required. Your burden is to prove that at least one of those things did not happen. You could do that with live testimony of a disinterested person, writings from your father, video tapes, etc.

    All of that will have to be fought out in the probate court unless you can find a number that will satisfy the woman enough to go away. You need a probate attorney to handle the court proceedings and to draft a proper settlement and release when or if the time comes.

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