Houston Probate Lawyer – Texas Probate Law
How to Avoid Probate Court!
We have all read the horror stories in the newspaper about some family of an oil tycoon who died without a Will and everyone is fighting over the money and who gets what. Goodness me, it can be a real life soap opera!
The truth is that everyone can take steps during their lifetime that will avoid the need for probate Court entirely. What you need is a probate attorney who will help you avoid probate in Texas. New developments in the law have allowed for unparalleled control by individuals over what happens to their property after they die. You can take steps before you die in order to designate who gets what (and in what percentages).
However, if there was no Will and you are faced with an issue that prevents you from being able to go forward in probate Court, then there are still some alternatives as a last ditch effort to legally solve your problems.
Alternatives To Probate
Many people will avoid probate, if at all possible, attempting to sidestep the lengthy court process and many procedures. At Law Office of Troy M. Moore, PLLC, we assist individuals in understanding their options in avoiding probate and handling the estate in other manners.
Texas offers some main alternatives to formally going through probate in a Houston probate court. As your trusted resource for probate law, we are here to help. See what follows below.
Affidavit of Heirship:
When an individual dies without leaving a will, but real estate must be disbursed to heirs and survivors, those heirs can file an affidavit of heirship with the county in which the real estate lies. Two witnesses must sign the affidavit, both having known the decedent, but neither standing to gain on the transfer. By filing the affidavit of heirship, the chain of title is linked to the heir, and he or she is now cleared to sell the land if so chosen.
The small estate affidavit is very much like the affidavit of heirship, but in addition to the two witnesses who stand to gain nothing, the affidavit must be signed by all heirs. After this, the ownership will transfer to the heir filing the affidavit. This is only available for estates under $75,000 in assets, including bank accounts and other financial accounts and funds. The hours does not count toward the $75,000.
These trusts are set up in advance of death, and the grantor has the flexibility to change the conditions and terms of the trusts as many times as he or she chooses. When the grantor passes, the trust will pass in the estate, according to the more recent terms.
You can file a Transfer on Death Deed, or a TODD, as it is commonly referred to in the legal world. A Texas transfer on death deed is a revocable deed of the real estate to the next person in line, but the property transfer does not actually occur until the current owner dies. These are nice because the current owner can still maintain their tax exemption up until the time they die, and still maintain ownership, while being able to avoid probate in the end. These are revocable and must be on file at the time of death. More information on Transfer on Death Deeds can be found here.
Joint Bank Accounts
Bank accounts that are joint bank accounts almost always have a “right of survivorship” for the other account holder. These bank funds pass automatically to the other account holder at the time of death. There is no need for probate of a joint bank account with right of survivorship. Any Texas probate attorney “near me” can tell you that.
Bank Accounts with a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death Beneficiairy (TOD)
You can set up any account at a financial institution to have a “payable on death” or “transfer on death” beneficiary designation. This means that whoever you designate will not have to go through probate Court to get the money from the account after you pass away. The beneficiary merely shows the banker the death certificate for the account holder and then the bank will turn over the funds in the bank account to the individual named as beneficiary.
Vehicle Beneficiary Designation
The State of Texas has a form for designating a beneficiary for your car! Can you believe it? How convenient! You can download the Beneficiary Designation for a Motor Vehicle form from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles here.
The various affidavits and processes related to heirship can come under fire by banks and title companies. Our attorneys possess a deep understanding of these vehicles and will help you take the proper steps to avoid obstacles. Should a dispute arise, we are available to protect your interests in the matter.
To learn more about ways that a lawyer can assist in avoiding probate and streamlining the process of distributing the property of an estate, please contact our Houston, Texas, law firm today at 281-970-8039.