Many Texas families seek to own real estate and other assets in a form that will enable their beneficiaries to avoid the probate process. Some examples are transfer on death (TOD) deeds for real estate and pay on death (POD) bank accounts. However, choosing the wrong form of non-probate transfer can be worse than doing no planning.
At Kennedy & Jackson, located in Houston, our lawyers are board-certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We can help you plan your estate in a way that offers the maximum protection of your assets for you while you are alive and for your beneficiaries after your death.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF TOD AND POD TRANSFERS?
When you transfer real estate using a TOD deed or a bank account using POD, those assets will be transferred to your beneficiaries in full upon your death. In a larger estate, that could result in greater estate taxes. If your beneficiary is sued or files bankruptcy, those assets could be taken to pay debts. If your beneficiary goes through a divorce, his or her ex could end up with half of it.
When real estate is transferred using a TOD deed, your beneficiaries may lose the protection you had under the homestead exemption. In Texas, creditors cannot force you to sell your homestead to pay debts. That is not the case with non-homestead property.
HOW CAN I AVOID PROBATE AND PROTECT ASSETS FOR MY BENEFICIARIES?
One way you can protect assets is by distributing them as a beneficiary trust. Assets owned by a trust are not personal property so they cannot be taken by creditors, predators and ex-spouses.
CONTACT A PROPERTY EXEMPTIONS ATTORNEY IN HOUSTON
We provide a free — and confidential — initial consultation to all new potential clients. For more information about non-probate property transfers, call 713-783-7444 or send us an email. Our law office is located in the Galleria area of Houston, with free on-site parking available next to our office building.