Probate Assets

Simplifying Probate: Restructuring Ownership and Exempt Assets

At The Probate Law Group, we recognize the importance of ensuring a smooth probate process for our clients and their loved ones. When a person passes away, their estate must go through probate before their intended beneficiaries can receive their inheritances. However, our knowledgeable Houston Probate lawyers are well-versed in probate avoidance strategies that can streamline the process and reduce overall costs. By restructuring ownership interests and understanding which assets are exempt from probate, we can help you navigate the complexities and ensure your loved ones are not burdened by unnecessary procedures.

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    In Texas, assets mentioned in a person’s will typically go through probate. However, there are two categories of assets that are exempt from probate: non-probate assets and exempt assets.

    Non-probate assets are exempt due to the type of ownership interest the deceased had in them. Retirement accounts and life insurance policies can be non-probate assets if a designated beneficiary is listed. Bank or brokerage accounts with payable-on-death designations can also transfer automatically to the beneficiary without probate. Real estate owned as joint tenants with a right of survivorship and assets placed in a trust are also non-probate assets.

    Exempt assets, while relatively small in number, do not require probate as per Texas law. These assets include a home when transferred to the surviving spouse or children, clothing, a limited amount of jewelry, one vehicle, farming equipment, two firearms, books, and tools.

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    For assets that are not exempt, there are various probate avoidance strategies that can be employed, such as:

    • Creating a revocable living trust and transferring assets into it.
    • Retitling assets to include a joint owner.
    • Adding transfer-on-death or beneficiary designations to bank and brokerage accounts.

    Avoiding probate can be significant in certain situations as it can save time and expenses for families. Reducing the number of probate assets simplifies the process, minimizes concerns about creditors’ claims, and reduces the likelihood of will contests that could delay probate. Delays in the process often lead to increased legal fees and court costs.

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    If you’ve been appointed as a personal representative, this probate glossary provides you with a foundational understanding of key terms. However, navigating the probate process can still be complex. To receive personalized guidance and support, reach out to the knowledgeable Houston probate lawyers at The Probate Law Group. With over 40 years of experience assisting clients through probate, we are here to address your questions and discuss how we can help. To learn more or schedule a consultation, please call us at (713) 574-6080 or connect with us through our secure online contact form.