Probate—the legal process used to pay off a deceased person's debts and distribute property to their designated heirs—can be lengthy, expensive, and public. Sparing beneficiaries this messy and drawn-out process is a key goal for most estate planning clients. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to avoid Probate in Texas.
One way is to ensure that survivorship rights are clearly spelled out in the wording of your assets. Bank accounts, mutual funds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets should list your name and the name of your beneficiary, and include specific “transfer on death” or “payable upon death” verbiage. When you die, the assets transfer to the other party without going through the Probate process.
Placing your assets in a living trust is another way to shield them from Probate after your death. This involves forming a trust, naming a successor trustee to take over in your absence, and transferring ownership of your property to yourself as trustee. When you die, the successor trustee can pass assets to your beneficiaries without the probate court's oversight.
Whether you're planning your own estate or trying to sort out the estate of a loved one who died intestate (without a will), it's important to speak with a Texas Estate Planning Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for avoiding Probate.
If your loved one died without a will or estate plan, you may be able to file a small estate affidavit with the court in lieu of going through Probate. Your loved one's estate may qualify for a small estate affidavit if there's been no petition for the appointment of a personal representative for the estate, it's been at least 30 days since their death, and the value of their assets (not counting the value of their home and exempt property) is $50,000 or less.
Discuss Your Case With a Knowledgeable Texas Attorney
The accomplished Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys with Ross & Shoalmire, P.L.L.C. have helped countless clients avoid the costly, confusing, and extensive Probate process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with a probate attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.