Will Your Estate Go to Your Family? 4 Ways to Avoid Probate in Texas

Last updated on: February 26, 2024

When it comes to safeguarding your legacy and ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes, understanding how to navigate the probate process is crucial. In Texas, as in many other states, probate can be a lengthy and complex legal procedure that your family may have to endure after your passing. However, with strategic planning, it is possible to bypass this process altogether, allowing your estate to transition smoothly to your loved ones without the need for court intervention. 

Are you considering these options to protect your estate but unsure where to start? A knowledgeable probate attorney can offer invaluable assistance. At The Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our team of Houston probate lawyers may be able to help tailor an estate plan that fits your unique situation, giving you peace of mind that your assets will be secured for your family’s future. Don’t let the intricacies of probate law leave your loved ones in a lurch. Contact us today at (281) 214-0173 to navigate the legal landscape with confidence and ensure your estate is passed on without unnecessary delay or expense.

Texas Probate: The Process

Probate is the legal process by which the court receives a decedent’s Will and Testament. This process allows the court to open an estate and appoint an administrator or executor. At the hearing, the court will determine whether or not the estate is subject to court scrutiny. After the hearing, the court will instruct the executor/administrator to collaborate with the lawyer in order to determine the assets and liabilities of the estate and distribute them to the beneficiaries. 

The probate process usually begins with the submission of the original will.  The court will then seek to validate the will. After the will is deemed valid, the probate court will name someone to manage the estate and supervise the probate proceedings. This role is referred to as the “independent executor”.

Most of the time, the executor is named in the original Will. Once an administrator is appointed, they must notify all creditors by providing evidence of the decedent’s death. The administrator will pay all valid claims, and then distribute any remaining property to the beneficiaries, according to the will.

In order to understand the probate process better, it is important to speak with an experienced probate attorney. A skilled estate planning lawyer may be able to help you go through the process smoothly and ensure that the estate is distributed according to the Will. Contact the Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson today to speak with an experienced probate lawyer.

Want to keep your estate out of court? In Texas, you have a few different options.

Joint Ownership of Property

One of the benefits of owning property jointly is that when one of the owners passes away, the other doesn’t have to worry about that piece of property going to someone else after probate. The catch is that you have to have “rights of survivorship,” or else the property could be subject to a court decision.

Texas has two forms of joint ownership that include these rights—joint tenancy and survivorship community property.

Joint tenancy is useful for couples (no marriage necessary) who want to own property together. Real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, and other property can be owned in a joint tenancy. To avoid probate in Texas with a joint tenancy, couples must sign a joint tenancy agreement.

Survivorship community property operates in much the same way, though it is exclusively for married couples.

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Bank Account Payable on Death Designation

Texas also allows bank account holders to designate someone to receive their money after they die. Known as a payable-on-death designation, this way of avoiding probate allows account holders to control their money while knowing that it won’t go through probate if they pass away.

Real Estate Transfer on Death Deed

Also known as beneficiary deeds, transfer-on-death deeds for real estate give home and business owners the option to transfer their real estate to someone else following their death. Property owners can revoke the deed or sell the property whenever they want as this deed does not take effect until they are deceased.

Living Trust

Living trusts are a great way to avoid probate in Texas. Nearly any sort of property can be protected by a trust, so it’s a great way for property owners to transfer houses, cars, bank accounts, and other valuable assets to their beneficiaries without getting the court involved. All you have to do is create the trust, name a successor trustee, and give yourself ownership of the property within the trust. After all that is done, the property will follow the rules of the trust, so be sure to speak to an experienced attorney before creating a living trust. Upon your death, the property will transfer to the successor trustee who can then distribute the property to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

Want to Avoid Probate in Texas? Get in Touch with Us Today.

It’s never too early to start estate planning. Contact us today so that we can create an estate plan that fits your needs and that helps you avoid probate in Texas.

Option Description
Joint Ownership of Property Property jointly owned with rights of survivorship.
Bank Account Payable on Death Designation Designate a beneficiary for bank accounts.
Real Estate Transfer on Death Deed Transfer real estate to someone upon death.
Living Trust Create a trust to transfer assets to beneficiaries.

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