One of the most important benefits of a well-organized estate plan is the fact that it can enable family members to avoid probate proceedings. There are several strategies available to Texas estate planners that are effective for the purposes of avoiding the probate process. Depending on one's situation and needs, one of the following three options may be an appropriate strategy to bypass probate in your case.
One way to avoid probate, perhaps the most common, is through a revocable living trust. The person who creates the living trust will be the trustee and retain control of the trust and its property until he or she dies. Upon death, a successor trustee will distribute the contents of the trust to the beneficiaries that are named in the trust documentation. This renders probate proceedings unnecessary, and it is an effective way to avoid the process.
Another common way to avoid probate proceedings is referred to as a joint tenancy. Joint tenancy gives people the right to share their property equally. In such an arrangement, when one owner of the property dies, the other owner will automatically inherit the property without the need for probate.
A final way to avoid the probate process in Texas is to name your beneficiary on the beneficiary paperwork related to your various investment accounts. For example, most individual retirement accounts require you to designate a beneficiary to inherit the asset. Your company 401(k) plan will also have this kind of beneficiary designation. The information contained in your beneficiary paperwork related to investment accounts will supersede anything contained in your will and trust documents. It will also enable those heirs to skip probate proceedings.