Steps to take to avoid probate

By creating a will, you retain a level of control over what happens to your property after you pass. However, it will also be necessary to go through Texas probate before anything can be transferred to beneficiaries, and probate can take up to 12 months to complete. Fortunately, there are some actions that you can take to bypass this process.

Consider using beneficiary designations

Typically, you will be required to attach a beneficiary designation to a retirement account or a life insurance policy. It may also be possible to transfer a vehicle or funds inside of a bank or brokerage account using such a document. Finally, real estate may be transferred directly to a person or organization immediately after you die assuming that it is titled properly.

Create a Trust

By creating a living trust, you get to take assets out of your estate without necessarily losing control of them. However, to avoid probate, any assets that are put into the trust must be titled in its name. The terms of the trust can be changed at any time, and as trustee, you have the right to revoke it entirely if you wish. As with a will, a trust allows you to name a guardian for a minor son or daughter. While it is possible to create such a document on your own, it may be a good idea to have an attorney review your work.

An expedited process may be available

If you have what the state considers to be a small estate, it may be possible to transfer assets without having to go through probate. Generally speaking, assets that are transferred through beneficiary designations or are held jointly don’t count toward the small estate value limit.

An estate planning attorney may be able to tell you more about how to avoid probate. He or she may also review existing beneficiary designations or other existing plan documents to see if they still meet your needs.