Who inherits if someone dies without a Will but told people that they were leaving their assets to a cousin yet they are survived by their parents?

Are the parents the automatic beneficiaries of the estate?

Asked on September 22, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The answer to this question depends on the law of the state where the person died and how the person's assets were titled.  The first place to look is at the assets -- are the bank accounts in joint names?  Was a beneficiary named?  If there are no jointly titled assets and no named beneficiaries, then the assets will pass according to the statute of descent and distribution.  This statute varies a little between states, but cousins are rarely the first to inherit.  Spouses are usually the first to inherit, then children.  If there is no spouse or children, the statutes usually look to parents and/or siblings next.  You should Google "who inherits" in your state and you will probably get some explanations of your state's statute of descent and distribution.

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