The process of settling an estate after the passing of a loved one can be a difficult and emotional process for a Texas family. Probate is often a requirement, which is the process of opening the estate by filing a last will and testament, paying remaining debts, notifying heirs and distributing assets. The court oversees each step, and it can take months or even years to complete probate and finally close the estate. For this reason, many people want to design estate plans that will allow for the avoidance of probate altogether.
The prudence of avoiding probate
Estate planning is a deeply personal process, and the decisions made will depend on one’s specific goals and objectives for his or her heirs and beneficiaries. Probate can be expensive, especially if there are disputes over the will or the estate is complicated. Records from probate are publicly accessible, which means anyone can access them. Privacy, savings and efficiency are common reasons why people often want to avoid probate.
Steps to avoiding probate
Certain estate planning tools can help accomplish the goal of avoiding probate. Assets held in a trust do not go through probate, and establishing joint ownership allows for assets to pass directly to the other owner. Other steps, such as converting certain types of retirement accounts, also allow for assets to change hands or for a beneficiary to access funds outside of the probate process.
The best choice for a specific estate
The decisions a Texas adult makes for his or her estate plan should make sense long-term. If avoiding probate is a primary goal, it is beneficial to consider the various tools and strategies that will allow one to accomplish this. It may also help to speak with an estate planning attorney to learn more about all of the options available.