The song “John Brown’s Intestacy,” written as a mnemonic in preparation for a test over the Texas Probate Code in paralegal school, was correct in October 2003, when I wrote it. The Probate Code, however, by order of the Texas Legislature, is no more, so the content of the song is no longer accurate. See note from Texas Law Library, below.
“Probate is primarily discussed in the Texas Estates Code, which was added to be effective Jan. 1, 2014, replacing the Texas Probate Code. Some older resources may reference the Probate Code, but that information will now be found in the Estates Code. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, you may want to view the “plain English” resources on this page or speak to an attorney.” – Texas Law Library
But I’ll wager the ideas expressed herein haven’t changed much.
Disclaimer: The song does not constitute practicing law without a license.
John Brown’s Intestacy
By Kathy Waller
(To be sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body,
aka The Battle Hymn of the Republic).
John Brown died and went to heaven but forgot to make a will.
His intestate succession now the Probate Code will tell.
Was he married, was he single, do his kids sit ‘round the ingle?
Had he common prop. or sep.?
Glory, glory, Texas Probate!
Separate property Section 38!
Common property Section 45!
Make a will while you’re alive!
If John’s married and he leaves a wife, no kids, or kids they share,
Then 45(a)1 leaves wife all common prop. that’s there.
But if he has an extra kid, wife ends up with just half
And the kids share all the rest.
Glory, glory 45(b)!
Don’t omit Section 43!
By the cap or by the stirpes,
Wife shares it with the kids!
For separate prop., if he’s no wife, it goes to kids or grands.
If none of those, John’s parents halve the personal and lands.
If only mom or pop lives, the surviving one takes half.
John’s siblings share the rest.
Glory! Both John’s folks are deceased–
All his sibs will share the increase,
And if no siblings, 38(a)4 means
They’ll need a family tree.
If John has separate prop. and leaves a wife and kids or grands,
38(b)1 gives wife one-third of personal prop. at hand,
And a one-third interest just for life in houses and in lands.
Descendants take the rest.
Glory, glory 38(b)1!
It’s one-third/two-thirds division!
But if John leaves a wife but no kids,
Section 38(b)2 applies!
V. – VII.
John’s wife gets all his personal prop. and half the real estate.
The other half of real estate goes back to 38—
38(a), to be exact, and up the family tree,
Unless his gene pool’s defunct.
For if John Brown was an only child with parents absentee,
No brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or cousins on the tree,
No grandparents or great-grandparents to grab a moiety,
His wife will get it all.
BUT if John Brown leaves this life with naught a soul to say, “Amen,”
The Probate Code’s escheat will neatly tie up all the ends:
The Lone Star State will step right up to be John’s kith and kin,
And Texas takes it all!
Glory, glory Texas Probate!
Slicing up poor John Brown’s estate!
Avoid the Legislature’s dictate:
Make a will while you’re alive!
Last will and testament of William Shakespeare,
who didn’t have to worry about intestacy
or the Texas Probate Code
Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Public domain.