Welcome to the Kazi Law Firm! We are a boutique law firm steeped in Texas tradition personifying the warmth and congeniality consistent with southern hospitality. We believe in preserving integrity and professionalism with true Texan charm, staying true to our roots, while providing essential, affordable legal services to all. Located just north of Dallas, Texas in the rapidly growing suburb of Frisco; the Kazi Law Firm concentrates on contracts drafting and review, immigration law, will & estates, real estate law, landlord, tenant, mediation, and general business law needs.
Texas is an amazing state for a plethora of reasons. I’m obviously a huge fan! I did take an oath to uphold the laws of the Lone Star State, after all. For the vast majority of people, Texas offers several unique benefits, one of which is our lack of an estate tax. Yes, that’s right. Texas is one of 38 states with no estate tax. Before we get too far ahead, let’s define the term and talk a bit more about what it means to you and your family members.
What is the Estate Tax?
The estate tax sometimes referred to as the “death tax,” is a tax levied on the estate of a recently deceased person before the money passes on to their heirs. It only applies to estates that reach a certain threshold. The estate tax is different from the inheritance tax, which is taken by the government after money or possessions have been passed on to the deceased person’s heirs.
If your estate has a high enough value after you pass away, then you’ll have to pay estate taxes on anything you’re looking to bequeath. This could include cash, real estate, retirement accounts or a range of other assets.
Currently, the threshold for federal estate taxes is $11.8 million, up slightly from the 2019 threshold of $11.4 million. Keep in mind that each state has its own threshold as well.
Texas Inheritance & Gift Tax
There is also no inheritance tax in Texas. However other states’ inheritance taxes may apply to you if a loved one who lives in those states gives you money, so make sure to check that state’s laws. For example, in Pennsylvania, there is a tax that applies to out-of-state inheritors. If you have a loved one who dies in Pennsylvania and leaves you money, you may owe taxes to that state.
Texas also has no gift tax, meaning the only gift tax you have to worry about is the federal gift tax. That allows you to gift up to $15,000 to an individual without paying any tax in 2020.
Spouses in Texas Inheritance Law
In Texas, you don’t have to go the traditional marriage route to be considered married by the state. It recognizes common law marriages and therefore will afford your common law spouse inheritance rights even if there’s no marriage license attributed to your relationship. To achieve a common law marriage in Texas, you must agree to be married with your spouse, have represented yourselves as married to others and have lived together in the state.
All community property will be left to your surviving spouse if all of your children are his or hers as well. But if one or more of your children are not from your surviving spouse, Texas will afford your community property to the children.
In this situation, Texas deals with separate property differently. The state divides separate personal property between your spouse and your children, with two thirds afforded to all the children and the leftover one third going to the spouse. Separate real property is divvied out in the same manner, but once the surviving spouse dies, real property is transferred to the children.
The laws in Texas surrounding intestate wills for married individuals without children are much simpler. The surviving spouse automatically receives all community property. Separate personal property also goes completely to the surviving spouse, while separate real property is split down the middle between the surviving spouse and the deceased’s parents, siblings or siblings’ descendants, in that order. If there are no surviving parents, siblings or descendants of siblings, the spouse gets the remainder of the estate’s separate real property.
Other Unique Scenarios
If the deceased’s will includes a former spouse in it, Texas law voids everything that would have gone to the former spouse. To avoid this, you will need to draft a new will following your divorce with your former spouse if you still want to leave anything to him or her after the fact.
A putative spouse is an individual the court finds to have truthfully believed he or she was married to the decedent, even though that wasn’t legally the case. To put this into a real world situation, two people could marry without one of the spouses being divorced from a previous marriage, making the most recent marriage illegitimate and thus the spouses merely putative. In Texas, these individuals possess essentially the same inheritance rights as a legal spouse.
Deathbed marriages refer to when an individual marries someone nearing death, not for love or partnership, but for a stake in his or her estate. Therefore, these are typically predatory in nature. Because spouses will usually hold a heavy stake in a decedent’s estate, this can be a point of contention for their families who notice that a deathbed marriage has occurred.
Texas law does provide these families a path of recourse to try and void the marriage. Make sure you file a case with the courts before the one year anniversary of the death, or you could run out of time to annul the marriage. Only marriages that are three years or shorter in length are eligible for annulment under this law.
Managing your own estate, or handling the intricacies of inheriting money from the estate of a loved one who has passed away, includes many complex factors to consider. It can be such an overwhelming venture with taxes to file, possible court proceedings to go through and more that it’s prudent to seek the help of an experienced probate attorney.
I built my law practice on the premise of being a life raft in a sea of sharks. I want to be an advocate for those that have been wronged and are too intimidated to seek help. My firm is here to explore your options, guide you through your legal journey, and give you that safe space to ask questions! There’s no such thing as a stupid question…Only the ones you don’t ask. So, my question to my clients is not “do you have any questions?” But rather “what questions do you have?”
As always, the Kazi Law Firm is standing by to help you in your time of need. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We specialize in real estate law, landlord-tenant disputes, immigration, and wills & estate planning. Family is at the core of our practice. Just as we treat our family with respect and understanding, we treat yours. Come join the Kazi Law Firm family today!
Why swim alone in shark-infested waters when you don’t need to?