As a general rule, a decedent’s assets in Texas must go through the probate process in order for those assets to pass on to the person’s beneficiaries. Because this process can be daunting and time-consuming, clients often come to us for help in figuring out how to avoid probate altogether. By organizing assets and planning ahead, there are ways to prioritize efficiency in passing your estate to your loved ones after your death.
Real property (land, a home, or a building), is typically subject to probate. However, by owning property with another individual, you can automatically pass that property onto the other individual when you die. The property must be owned with the “right of survivorship,” meaning whoever else owns the property upon the decedent’s death has the right to continue owning it if and when they survive another owner.
A “transfer-on-death” deed is another way to pass along real property. This kind of deed must be recorded and processed before the property owner’s death. It essentially means that as soon as a person dies, the property automatically transfers to the beneficiary without any timely litigation.
Another common asset that our clients leave to beneficiaries is money, whether it is kept in a bank account, a trust, or an investment account. By putting money into a “payable-on-death” account, individuals can ensure that the money in a certain account goes straight to a beneficiary upon that person’s death. The beneficiary does not, however, have any rights to the money while the individual is still alive.
Individuals can also put their money into a trust, a 401(k) plan, a pension, or an IRA. These kinds of assets are all exempt from the probate process. Similarly, they can go straight to a beneficiary without any need for probate.
Ultimately, whether assets are organized to avoid probate depends on a person’s individualized goals. If you are wondering if this strategy might be right for you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to speak with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible, so you can make sure your loved ones are accounted for after you are gone.
Are You on the Lookout for a Probate Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we recognize that every person has his or her own needs, priorities, and goals, and we work hard to make sure that all of our clients receive the care and attention they deserve. We help guide families through planning and executing their strategies, and we assist our clients in understanding all of their options to better protect their legacies long after they are gone.
If you would like a consultation with one of our Houston estate planning attorneys, contact us today at 713-597-7176. You can also fill out our online form to get in touch with us. We offer flat fees, over 35 years of experience, and dependable advice for you and your loved ones.