Which Assets Must Go Through the Probate Process in Texas?

It is safe to say that no one looks forward to navigating the probate process – it can be daunting for those that have lost loved ones and are just trying to get the decedent’s affairs in order. At McCulloch & Miller, part of our goal is to demystify the probate process for clients and potential clients, to help them feel like they have a better grip on what might happen through their interactions with the courts. Today, we cover which assets must go through the probate process, as well as which assets typically are exempt.

Probate Assets

Any real property typically goes through probate in Texas – this, notably, is a broad category of assets that includes real estate, money in non-exempt bank accounts, pieces of land, vehicles, and other important objects or possessions. The probate court’s job is to interpret the decedent’s estate planning documents and determine how these assets should be divided up. In the absence of a will, the court will divide the assets up according to intestate laws in Texas, which tell the court the specific family members that are entitled to receive the decedent’s property.

Non-Probate Assets

The list of non-probate assets is perhaps more complicated, and the examples we include here do not constitute an exhaustive list. As always, the specifics of your estate plan will depend on your individual circumstances and the complexity of your estate. In short, though, some assets that do not have to go through probate include:

  • Trust assets: money that is kept in a trust is generally protected and excluded from probate.
  • Transfer-on-death accounts: this kind of bank account directs the bank to automatically transfer the account’s money to a specific person or persons upon the account owner’s death.
  • Certain jointly owned property: land or a home that is owned with another person can bypass probate if it is owned “in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship.” The “right of survivorship” ensures that the person surviving the decedent continues to own the land when that person dies.

It is possible, then, to organize your assets so that they can avoid probate, either largely or completely. The more complex a person’s estate, the more steps he or she might need to go through, but talking with an experienced estate planning attorney can help make sure every box is checked and no stone is left unturned.

Are You Looking for an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?

At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we have decades of experience crafting estate plans for our clients in the Houston community. If you would like to make sure your loved ones are set up in the event of your death, contacting our firm will help you achieve your goal in the most efficient and thorough way possibl. For a consultation with an attorney on our Texas team, call us today at 713-597-7176. You can also fill out our online form to have someone reach back out to you as soon as possible.



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