The Texas Estates Code attempts to protect the surviving spouse and minor children of the Deceased by listing specifically exempt property. This exempt property is set aside by the Probate Court despite the wishes of the heirs or directions of a Will. This protection is especially valuable in split families, where the adult children don’t like their dad’s new gold-digging wife or mom’s new dead-beat husband. If the dad were to pass away without updating his Will, his wife could possibly be made homeless were it not for the protections the Texas Estates Code gives to surviving spouses and minor children.
The surviving spouse or the minor children of the Deceased may apply to the Probate court to set aside the following property immediately after the Inventory of an estate are approved is filed: (1) the homestead for the use and benefit of the decedent’s surviving spouse and minor children; and (2) all other exempt property described by Section 42.002(a) of the Texas Property Code.

The exempt property described by Section 42.002 of the Texas Property code reads:

“The following personal property is exempt under Section 42.001(a):
(1) home furnishings, including family heirlooms;
(2) provisions for consumption;
(3) farming or ranching vehicles and implements;
(4) tools, equipment, books, and apparatus, including boats and motor vehicles used in a trade or profession;
(5) wearing apparel;
(6) jewelry not to exceed 25 percent of the aggregate limitations prescribed by Section 42.001(a);
(7) two firearms;
(8) athletic and sporting equipment, including bicycles;
(9) a two-wheeled, three-wheeled, or four-wheeled motor vehicle for each member of a family or single adult who holds a driver’s license or who does not hold a driver’s license but who relies on another person to operate the vehicle for the benefit of the non-licensed person;
(10) the following animals and forage on hand for their consumption:
(A) two horses, mules, or donkeys and a saddle, blanket, and bridle for each;
(B) 12 head of cattle;
(C) 60 head of other types of livestock; and
(D) 120 fowl; and
(11) household pets.”

If you don’t have a Homestead Designation on your home right now, do it now. The Homestead Designation and Exemptions benefit you by decreasing your taxes, by giving you protection against creditors, and by giving you or your spouse protections under the Texas Estates Code if one of you passes away. It’s best not to rely solely on the Texas Estates Code for that protection, though. It’s always wise to visit with an attorney and discuss the value of having your wishes written down in a Last Will and Testament.

Goodluck!

-Blaise Regan
Blaise Regan is a Partner at Regan & Frisbie, PLLC, a law firm focusing on Wills, Trusts, Probate, Contracts, Business Formations (LLC, Corporation, S-Corp Designation), Business Disputes, and Consumer Litigation.

Regan & Frisbie, PLLC is located at 7160 Preston Road, Suite 100, Plano, Texas 75024.

Comments or questions, feel free to email him at Blaise@RFPlawfirm.com or call him at 469.200.4737.
*Nothing in this Article is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, or creating an attorney-client relationship, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and no warranty or representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein.

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