Can I leave my estate to my estate in my will instead to an named beneficiary?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I leave my estate to my estate in my will instead to an named beneficiary?

I just probated my wife’s will during which several questions arose regarding
beneficiaries. I am making my will now and want to avoid those issues. My will
is extremely simple. I thoroughly trust the two relatives who I have named
executors and besides at that point it will be moot to me so I am considering
leaving everything to the estate and a letter to the executors stating my wishes
for my property. What they do with it is up to them. Is it legal in Texas to do so?

Asked on February 5, 2018 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You letter to the executors will not be enforceable, since only a properly signed and witnessed will controls what may be done with assets after death. If you have no beneficiaries in the will, therefore, and no instructions in the will as to what to do with the assets, the will be effectively void--it does not do what it is supposed to and direct the disposition of assets. That means that it is most likely that with no instructions in the will, your assets will instead pass by the rules for "intestate" succession, or who gets what when there is no will. That means generally spouse  (if any) first; then children (if any); then parents if no spouse or children; then siblings; then more distant relatives. Unless you want the law to distribute you assets in more-or-less that order (it varies somewhat by state), but instructions for the executors into the will.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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