When you’re married and want to plan for the future, your estate plan should include ways to pass on your assets without making your spouse go through probate. There are a few ways to do this, so that your spouse spends less time in court and obtains the assets they need much sooner.
Some of the simplest ways to avoid probate are by using Transfer on Death Deeds, living trusts, payable-on-death accounts and small estate procedures. Additionally, you may be able to use joint ownership of certain kinds of property to pass on property without probate.
It can be difficult to know which options are right for you, which is why learning more about your legal rights is the key to a comprehensive estate plan. Here are a few common ways to transfer your assets to your spouse without worrying about the probate process.
Transfer on Death Deeds
One option for passing on your real estate is to set up a Transfer on Death Deed. This will pass the ownership of your home onto your beneficiary at the time of your death. To transfer the property, your spouse will need to file an Affidavit of Death with the county following your death. Doing this, you can completely avoid probate regarding this assets.
Another option for passing assets on without probate is by using a living trust. A living trust allows you to deposit almost any assets into it during your lifetime. This essentially takes the asset out of your name and your estate.
A trustee will manage these assets after your death and distribute them based on the terms of the trust, which can be as simple as to say that the assets should pass to your spouse upon your death. The trustee will pass assets directly to your beneficiaries outside of probate court.
A third way to avoid probate is to use payable-on-death accounts. You can add a payable-on-death designation to separate bank accounts (as well as other kinds of accounts) so they pass directly to your spouse following your death. Since there is a direct designation, no probate is needed.
Small Estate Procedures
Small estate procedures are another option for your estate. Administrators of small estates can ask to close an estate with a small estate affidavit. With this method, it’s possible to avoid probate when the estate is not worth more than what it owes in debt or when there is less than $75,000 in property left behind.
With joint ownership, you and your spouse will own a property or asset together. There are two kinds of joint ownership to know about in Texas, joint tenancy and survivorship community property.
With joint tenancy, the deceased person’s ownership stake passes on automatically to the survivor. Joint tenancy is often used by married and unmarried people. It’s primarily used for homes and property, but it’s not necessarily only for real estate. Other shared assets may also be protected, such as bank accounts. Make sure to have an explicit joint tenancy agreement with your spouse for the best protection.
With survivorship community property, married couples can trust that community property will carry over to the surviving spouse upon their death.
Contact Krupa Downs Law, PLLC, Today
When you want to protect your spouse and avoid probate, these five options could provide you with significant benefits. There are many ways to protect your assets and pass them on to your beneficiaries in Texas, so you can avoid probate or minimize the number of assets that must go through it. At Krupa Downs Law, PLLC, we’re here to help. Call for more information at (214) 556-3862.