Reed: Inheritance by half-siblings and other intestacy dilemmas

Sandra W. Reed
Special to the Avalanche-Journal

Jassa, a widow, had no children when she died without a will. Both her parents are deceased. However, her mother, Clara, had two children — Janna by Duke, her first husband, who was killed in Korea and Clarise by her second husband, Paul.

He died from cancer three years ago. Both of Jassa’s parents have died. Her closest relatives are these two half-siblings. Do half-siblings inherit?

Sandra Reed

When are siblings half-siblings?

Persons who share a dad but not a mother are half-siblings. Similarly, persons who share a mother but not a dad are half-siblings. This relationship is distinguished from step-siblings who are the offspring of their mother’s or father’s prior marriages when the second marriage produces no other children.

Inheritance when decedent has both living full-blood and half-siblings  

Although this is not the case with Jassa, if the decedent dies without a will and has both living full-blood siblings and half-siblings, in accordance with Texas Estates Codes §201.057, all half-relatives receive only half of the share that a full-blooded relative is entitled to inherit. That means the full-blooded sibling would take two-thirds of the estate and the half-sibling would take one-third of the estate, that is, one-half of what the full-blooded sibling receives.

Inheritance when decedent has only living half-siblings

Jassa has no full-blooded siblings, only these two half-siblings. Therefore, Janna and Clarise will receive the same portion of the estate that a full-blooded sibling would have received when the decedent dies without a will. Thus, Janna takes half and Clarise takes half.

What If childless decedent has no will and living parents?

If an intestate decedent (one dying without leaving a will) has no living descendants - that is, children or descendants of children but two living parents - each parent would inherit one-half of the estate. If only one parent were living, the living parent inherits the entire estate if the decedent has no living siblings and there are no descendants of siblings.

If the intestate decedent dies with one living parent and siblings or descendants of siblings, the living parent gets one-half the estate and the other half is divided among the living siblings or the descendants of deceased siblings.   Texas Estates Code §201.001 (d) (1).

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives on beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or at