Many people assume that as long as they draft a will, their assets will be distributed to their beneficiaries in a timely and efficient manner upon their death. While your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries, it may not be timely or efficient. The reason for this is that wills need to go through the probate process before assets can be distributed to those who are entitled to receive them.
At Kennedy & Jackson, located in Houston, our lawyers understand the probate process. We have helped hundreds of families navigate the Texas probate process. We also know how you can plan your estate to avoid probate. Our attorneys are board-certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO AVOID PROBATE?
There are many reasons why you may want to avoid probate:
- Cost — In Texas, probate can cost your beneficiaries thousands of dollars. Some attorneys may charge a percentage of the estate.
- Delay — Probate can take a few months to more than a year, depending on the complexity of the estate. If the deceased owned property in more than one state, you would have to go through the probate process in each state in which the decedent owned property.
- Publicity — Probate is a public process, so anyone who is interested can find out what you owned and who will receive it after your death.
HOW CAN I AVOID PROBATE?
Some assets do not have to go through the probate process. These include assets distributed through beneficiary designation such as life insurance benefits and stock accounts. Real estate held in a transfer on death (TOD) or joint tenancy with right of survivorship deed may also be transferred without the need for probate. However, even if the majority of your assets are held in a form that allows non-probate transfers, you would still need to go through the probate process for assets that are distributed using a will.
The most effective way to avoid probate is to use a living revocable trust as the foundation of your estate plan. Keeping assets in a living trust keeps your family’s financial affairs private. In addition, your assets can pass directly to the people you want to have them without the involvement of a probate court.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT AVOIDING PROBATE IN HOUSTON
Our law firm is located in the Galleria area of Houston, with free on-site parking available next to our office building. To schedule a free — and confidential — initial consultation, call 713-783-7444 or send us an email.