Probate gets a bad rap, and for a good reason. There are deadlines to meet, fees to pay, and hearings to attend—all while trying to grieve the loss of your loved one.
Navigating an unfamiliar legal proceeding is probably the last thing you want to do during such an emotionally charged time.
Luckily, there are ways of avoiding probate in Texas, so you can spare your family the headache. In this blog, we explain how to avoid probate in Texas and share ideas you can implement into your estate plan.
Why Avoid Probate?
Probate is the legal process of winding up a person’s affairs after their death. This multistep proceeding involves identifying property, notifying family members, paying off debts, and distributing the remaining assets.
Probate can be time-consuming and costly, and it lengthens the amount of time your heirs and beneficiaries must wait before they can get their inheritance. Disgruntled family members can bring a lawsuit against the estate, which drags out the process even further.
And all probate proceedings become part of the public record. For these reasons, many people try avoiding probate in Texas.
How Do You Avoid Probate in Texas?
The best way to avoid probate is to die without any assets in your estate. If you pass away with assets titled solely in your name (also known as probate assets), your estate must go through probate. Here are some common tools and techniques that will keep your estate out of probate.
Create a Living Trust
Trusts are tools that can protect your assets from creditors, taxes, and probate. Creating the trust involves setting terms and appointing a successor trustee. After you put assets into the trust, those assets transfer to the beneficiaries outside of probate upon your death.
Families often like this because the entire process is completely private rather than public like probate. Trusts come in many forms and serve different purposes. Our experienced estate planners can help create the trust that meets your needs.
Jointly Title Your Property
You can avoid probate by jointly owning property. Texas has two forms of joint ownership: joint tenancy and survivorship community property.
Two or more persons can own property as joint tenants. When one co-owner dies, the property automatically passes to the surviving co-owner without the need for any probate proceeding.
Survivorship community property
Married couples can own community property with the right of survivorship. Spouses can agree that when one spouse dies, any existing or acquired community property becomes the surviving spouse’s property. Since this is an automatic transfer, it avoids probate.
Use Beneficiary Designations
You can set up beneficiary designations with certain assets so that the asset immediately transfers when you die. For example, you can add a “payable-on-death” designation to your bank account. Once you pass away, that money goes directly to the designated beneficiary.
This all happens without probate. As the account owner, you have complete control over the money up until your death. You can spend every last penny if you want to. The beneficiary has no rights over the account while you’re alive.
You can also use beneficiary designations with assets like life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
Execute a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD)
With a TODD, you can transfer real property, such as a house, to a beneficiary without them having to go through probate. You record the deed and continue to use the property as you wish.
The beneficiary has no say in what you do with the real estate as long as you’re alive. In fact, you can revoke the deed and sell the property if you want to. At your death, the TODD becomes effective, and the beneficiary takes ownership.
Does a Will Avoid Probate in Texas?
No. Having a will doesn’t impact whether your estate goes through probate. Wills still must go through probate. What matters is how your assets are titled at the time of death.
Avoid Probate with a Comprehensive Estate Plan
Now that you know how to avoid probate in Texas let us help you with your estate planning. Our team of experienced attorneys offers personalized estate plans that are tailored to meet your needs. We take a collaborative approach with our clients so that we can provide quick results.
Each one of our estate planners graduated at the top of their class from one of the best schools in the country. Contact the Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, by calling our office at 512-623-7552 or submitting an online form.
Our no-obligation consultations are completely free. Let us get to know you, your family, and your goals, so we can start planning your legacy today.