Probate is the legal process of settling a person’s estate after their passing, often involving court proceedings.
Fortunately, there are straightforward ways to sidestep probate in Texas, ensuring a smoother transition for your assets.
Establish a living trust
Between September 1, 2021, and August 31, 2022, Texas courts saw 71,563 estate cases, including those with an independent and dependent administrator or other estate cases. One way to bypass this process involves creating a living trust. This legal document allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while maintaining control during your lifetime. When you pass away, your trustee distributes the assets held in the trust to your beneficiaries without probate.
Joint ownership of property
If you jointly own property with someone else, such as a spouse, the property automatically transfers to the surviving owner when you pass away. This method applies to various assets, including real estate and bank accounts.
Designate beneficiaries for your life insurance policies, retirement accounts and payable-on-death bank accounts. Upon your death, these assets pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Regularly review and update your beneficiary designations to ensure they align with your wishes.
Gift your assets
Consider gifting your assets to your heirs while you are still alive. In Texas, some gifts may be subject to a gift tax, so learn about the tax implications. However, this method allows you to transfer assets and witness the impact of your generosity during your lifetime.
Small estate affidavit
A small estate affidavit may be a viable option for smaller estates with a total value of $75,000 or less. This legal document, when properly executed, enables the heirs to claim the assets without going through probate.
Avoiding probate in the Lone Star State can save your loved ones time, money and unnecessary stress.