How To Prepare Your Estate to Avoid Probate in Texas if You’re 55+

55+ Communities Fort Worth

You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating assets - real estate, personal possessions such as jewelry or antiques, savings and investment accounts...all of the things that make up your estate. The last thing you want to have happen when you pass away is to make your loved one’s head to court to receive their inheritance and go through the dreaded probate process.

For that reason, many adults 55+ take the time to plan their estates to ensure that their loved ones obtain their bequests as painlessly as possible. Fortunately, Texas offers its residents many ways to avoid exposing their beneficiaries to probate, from establishing trusts to utilizing specialized deeds for real estate.

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NTREIS data last updated July 13, 2024.

Why You Want to Avoid Probate

There are many reasons why you want to have your estate avoid going through probate, including:

  • Privacy. All probate proceedings are a matter of public record. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous and predatory individuals and businesses target beneficiaries during a very emotional time.

  • Cost. Your loved ones will most likely need to bear the expense of hiring an estate executor, which can take a bite out of their inheritance and cause the liquidation of some assets to pay executor costs.

  • Time. The probate process can take months, delaying the passing of your assets to your beneficiaries.

  • Contestability. Probate provides more time for an estranged relative or disinherited heir to bring a lawsuit against the estate.

  • Turmoil. You don’t want your family having to resolve their affairs in court while they’re grieving.

How To Avoid Probate In Texas

There are numerous ways to make sure you’re estate doesn’t go through probate:

Living trusts: This is a common method to avoid probate in Texas. By forming a trust, you’re essentially creating a sort of safety deposit box into which you can deposit almost any asset. Once you’ve created the trust and named a successor trustee who will manage the trust when you die, you can begin transferring assets into the trust and naming heirs. Then, upon your death, those assets will pass to your beneficiaries without having to go through probate.

Joint ownership: There are two different forms of joint ownership in Texas. The first, joint tenancy, may be employed by single or married people. When two or more people are joint tenants, and one tenant dies, the survivor automatically receives the deceased person’s ownership stake.

The second, survivorship community property, can be used by married couples. Community property will revert over to the surviving spouse upon the other’s death.

Small estate procedures: If an estate meets very specific criteria, such as not being worth more than its outstanding debt or leaving beneficiaries under $75,000 in property, the estate administrator can request to close the estate through a small estate affidavit.

Transfer-on-Death Deed (TODD): Also known as a Lady Bird Deed, this deed allows an individual to name a beneficiary for their home or other real property. The deed must be recorded while the property owner is still living, but the deed doesn’t take effect until the owner has died. While the property owner is alive, the intended beneficiary has no rights to the property.

Trust David Pannell and Cities Real Estate

David Pannell and Cities Real Estate understand how probate works in Texas and how to position your real estate accordingly. David’s knowledge can save you and your family a small fortune while you’re alive, and when you pass.

If you’d like to learn more about the ways to sell your property for your family’s maximum benefit, call David today at (817) 797-9047. He’s helped hundreds of buyers and sellers since 2005; let him help you make your real estate dreams come true.

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