Although Texas has a relatively simple Probate process, there are benefits to avoiding probate if possible.
There is a significant cost associated with Probate in court fees and attorney's fees. This coupled with a waiting period before assets may be distributed to your beneficiaries can create a tough financial situation for your family. However, with the proper planning, you may be able to get the majority of assets to your family immediately upon your passing.
Payable on Death / Transfer on Death
There are certain assets that, on their own, pass outside of Probate. Insurance, retirement benefits, and bank accounts with a payable on death (POD) designation, are the most common. Your designated beneficiaries are allowed access to those funds upon your passing with a Death Certificate.
Any real property that you own and titled vehicles would ordinarily require a Probate to be filed, before they could be distributed.
Transfer on Death Deed
However, if you utilize a Transfer on Death Deed, in which you name a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive your interest it the property upon your passing, this property becomes a non-probate assets and will not require a Probate to be filed. Your beneficiary would only need the Death Certificate to transfer ownership into their name. The Transfer on Death deed allows you to keep ownership of the property while you are alive, and you retain full benefits/ rights to that property. Your beneficiary does not receive any right to that property until you pass. This type of Deed may also be revoked.
Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship
If you have property that you own jointly, and you wish the owner receive your interest upon your passing, you may enter an agreement with the other owner that the surviving owner will take the deceased owner's interest upon their passing. These are especially handy with blended families, where a couple has married or cohabitate but have chidren from a previous relationship. Ordinarily, the deceased owner's interest would pass to their children. However with the JTWROS, you can make sure that the surviving owner takes ownership of the house, without filing a Probate or having to enter into ownership with the deceased owner's beneficiaries.
Designate beneficiaries on accounts when you can and keep them current
Look into desgnating a beneficiary on bank accounts (payable on death)
Designate a beneficiary for you vehicle on the Texas Application for Certificate of Title Form 2307 for married couple and Texas Form VTR-122. Both may be found at www.txdmv.gov
Think about using a Transfer on Death Deed or Survivorship Agreement
If you'd like a consultation to discuss your Estate Planning needs, please book online or call the office to schedule your Free Consultation. We primarily practice in Williamson County, Texas and Travis County, Texas, being located in Leander, Texas.
Wills, Estate Planning, Probate, Leander, Texas, Williamson County, Travis County