How to Avoid Probate
Whether the goal of avoiding probate is advisable in your particular situation is a consideration that should be discussed with a seasoned Houston probate lawyer. If avoiding probate is your goal, you can discuss the following options in more detail with your lawyer.
- Joint property ownership with the right of survivorship: If you want your property to pass to a loved one automatically upon your death with no need for probate, be sure that your property is jointly owned with the right of survivorship.
- Living Trusts: Any asset you own can be protected from probate by establishing a living trust. You must make yourself the current trustee, transfer ownership to yourself as trustee, and name a successor trustee who simply takes over control of the trust after you die with no need for probate. The successor trustee can then distribute the asset to the beneficiaries.
- Transfer-on-Death (TOD): Making certain assets transferable upon death is a simple way to pass assets on without probate. Some examples include transfer-on-death real estate deeds and transfer-on-death vehicle registrations.
These are just a few ways to avoid probate. Speak with your lawyer to find methods that suit your specific needs.
Why You Need a Houston Probate Lawyer
Some people believe they can handle a probate case on their own. You may even find yourself wondering, Why would I need a probate lawyer? The answer to this question is twofold—you need time to grieve and you need probate handled properly and efficiently.
Time to Grieve
After a loved one dies, the emotional toll can be unbearable, and healing requires time to grieve. Preoccupation with tedious details can be challenging for many of us during the best of times, but they are certainly not something that we want to deal with during the worst of times. The average probate case is riddled with details you may not be familiar with and can take 8 to 12 months (or more) to resolve. The added stress of trying to handle this on your own can interrupt the process of recovery in a way that can impact you for years to come. So it is best to give yourself the time you need to properly deal with your loss and your new reality.
Get the Job Done Right
Unfortunately, if your loved one died without establishing a Will or taking steps to avoid probate, someone needs to step up and deal with the administrative issues related to the estate. An attorney who has experience in handling probate cases in the past is much more mentally prepared for the task than a newly grieving widow or widower who has no experience in court. A skilled probate attorney in Houston, TX, can alleviate your burden by skillfully:
- Preparing and filing all necessary court documents within allotted timeframes;
- Handling income tax, estate tax, and inheritance tax issues on both the state and federal level;
- Settling disputes among beneficiaries;
- Managing the deceased’s bank accounts and paying off debts;
- Locating the deceased’s assets and obtaining appraisals for those assets;
- Filing for and collecting life insurance benefits; and
- Managing retirement plans.
Allow yourself time to heal by letting a professional take these burdens off you. They have done it many times before, and they know exactly what to do and when to do it.