Probate is the process of submitting a will to the Court for legal recognition that the will is valid and enforceable in Texas. Should probate be necessary for your loved one’s estate, the qualified probate attorneys at Romano & Sumner can help you draw up a will, determine who the named beneficiaries are in the will, and determine how and when a decedent’s estate should be distributed. Most people, however, would prefer to avoid the stress of probating a will while grieving for their loved one. At Romano & Sumner we can help you with avoiding probate in Sugar Land altogether.
Most people’s estates will need to go through probate after they die. The most common reason a person’s estate needs to be probated is to apportion or partition assets to beneficiaries. Titled assets typically require some sort of probate proceeding to transfer title to named beneficiaries. Probate is also typically required to distribute financial accounts unless the account is beneficiary designated. The probate process can be lengthy and includes settling claims, paying outstanding debts to creditors, and appointing a personal representative to collect and distribute assets. However, there are a few ways to avoid this process.
One of the most popular ways to avoid probate in Texas is by using a revocable trust. A revocable trust is a separate legal structure which holds the assets of a person. The settlor, or the person who creates the trust, can appoint a successor trustee to administer the trust after the settlor passes away. However, it is crucial that the settlor funds that trust before their death. If a settlor fails to fund the trust, it does not legally own any assets and it could be worthless later on.
A method for avoiding probate of financial accounts is to designate beneficiaries on all accounts or to add the desired beneficiaries as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. When a decedent passes away and they have designated beneficiaries or added joint tenants with rights of survivorship, those named beneficiaries can gain quick access to the funds without probate.
If the estate of the deceased person who dies without a will is under $75,000.00 (with some caveats), Texas allows for a person to avoid probate by filing a small estate affidavit. A personal representative will not be appointed in this case, assuming the affidavit conforms with all the statutory requirements.
This affidavit provides a person’s heirs with access to the decedent’s real and personal assets. It is a streamlined and simple process, and the only time that the size of the estate comes into play in probate cases. However, banks and title companies sometimes refuse to honor small estate affidavits. A local legal professional could help prepare an individual to avoid probate with the correct paperwork or help determine what assets need to go through the process.
An individual can avoid probate with careful preparation, as it is not always required in Texas. However, depending on the size of a person’s estate and other considerations, going through probate may be the best option for some people. For more information on your personal situation, or for help avoiding probate in Sugar Land, contact a dedicated attorney at Romano & Sumner today for a free consultation.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC