Yes – but there are exceptions where a parent will be disqualified from inheriting from his or her deceased child if the parent has taken particular actions.
The General Rule in Texas
First of all, when minor children (presuming they are not married) pass away, their parents have the right under Texas law to inherit all of their property and money. That is general rule. Specifically, section 201.001(c) of the Texas Estates Code, which applies to all persons, including children, states that if the decedent had no children him or herself, then the estate descends and passes in equal portions to the person’s father and mother. In addition, in cases where one parent is already deceased, the Texas Estates Code sets forth that the surviving parent is entitled to half the decedent’s estate and that the decedent’s siblings are entitled to the other half. Furthermore, if there are no siblings, then the surviving parent inherits the decedent’s entire estate. These laws apply whether the decedent is an adult or minor.
However, even though the general rule is that parents will inherit from their minor children, the Texas Estates Code contains several prominent exceptions, which are set forth in section 201.062. Many Texas probate lawyers call this statute the “bad parent statute”.
This section contains three different types of exceptions to the general rule, which can be classified as (1) Abandonment after birth, (2) Abandonment during pregnancy, and (3) conviction of certain crimes. Either of these exceptions must be proven during the administration of the child’s estate by clear and convincing evidence.
(1) Abandonment after birth
First, according to section 201.062(1), if a parent voluntarily abandons and fails to support his or her minor child “in accordance with the parent’s obligations or abilities” for a minimum of three years before the child’s death, then the court may declare that the parent is disqualified to inherit.
(2) Abandonment during pregnancy
Second, in accordance with section 201.062(2)(A)-(C), a parent can be disqualified to inherit if they abandon the mother during the pregnancy and the abandonment lasts until the birth of the child. However, “abandonment” is not easy to prove. The term doesn’t just mean physical abandonment. To be disinherited, the parent must both physically abandon the mother and also fail to provide adequate support during the pregnancy. Furthermore, the statute itself is quite forgiving because it states that it will not apply unless the parent continues the abandonment after the child is born and until the child becomes deceased. This section of the Estates really seems to target parents who completely take no interest in their child except when the chance to inherit come around. Presumably, the legislature enacted this last requirement because it wanted to incentivize parents to provide support and otherwise be involved in the lives of their children even if they were absent during the pregnancy.
A parent can also lose his or her right to inherit from a minor child if he or she has been convicted of certain crimes or placed on community supervision for certain actions that cause the “death or serious injury” to a minor. Below is a list of the crimes that allow for the forced disinheritance of a parent:
Murder under section 19.02 of the Texas Penal Code
Capital murder under section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code
Manslaughter under section 19.04 of the Texas Penal Code
Indecency with a child under section 21.11 of the Texas Penal Code
Assault under section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code
Sexual assault under section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code
Aggravated assault under section 22.02 of the Texas Penal Code
Injury to a child under section 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code
Abandoning or endangering a child under section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code
Certain sexual conduct under section 25.02 of the Texas Penal Code
Note that it is not enough to be convicted of these crimes and it is also not enough to have simply caused the death or serious injury of a minor. To lose one’s inheritance from a child, a parent must have caused the death or serious injury as a result of one of the following crimes. In addition, also note that the child who suffers the death or serious injury need not be the child from which the convicted person wants to inherit. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be the person’s own child.
If you have loved one who passed away with or without a will and are interested in receiving legal advice and representation for this matter, then call the Law Offices of Joseph E. Seiler at (713) 343-1450 or message us below.
State Bar of Texas
Texas Supreme Court
All Texas Appellate Courts
United State Federal Court for the Southern District of Texas
Houston Bar Association
Northwest Houston Bar Association
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