The probate process can sometimes be slow and costly. It can also leave information you want to keep private from scammers and even burglars. For these reasons, you should avoid this process. As a real-estate expert I add value to you and make things easier for yourself by letting you know how this process can be avoided when possible.
1. Pay-on-Death Accounts and Registrations: designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries on your bank accounts, insurance policies, pension plans, 401K plans, IRA accounts, stocks and bonds. This is actually quite easy and these financial instruments often include language that allows you to do so when you open them. You are then able to ensure that your assets are immediately dispersed without having to go through probate first. Again, this can save you much time and expense.
2. Joint Ownership of Property: By taking joint ownership of a property you can avoid probate after the first owner dies. Be sure you have stated on your deed how you want the title to be held. This way the property goes to the joint owner when the primary owner(s) dies, avoiding probate completely. You can avoid probate using the following kinds of joint ownership:
joint tenancy with right of survivorship
tenancy by the entirety
community property with right of survivorship
Be sure to consult with a Probate Attorney to make sure what tenancy will serve you and your family best - especially in Texas.
3. Write a living trust: Many people believe that simply having a last will and testament will prevent their loved ones from going through probate. This is not necessarily so. The truth is that all the assets that you own will pass on to your beneficiaries and are subject to probate. A revocable living trust circumvents the probate process which can leave your beneficiaries waiting indefinitely for the income from the probate property. A revocable living trust is a document whereby you can create a living trust as a separate entity from yourself. The trustee can easily transfer the property it holds to the family and friends it was left to without probate.