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You want to take care of your family after you pass, but complicated laws that come into play may only serve to drain what you leave behind. Probate can be a long and expensive process, but there are ways to get around paying the hefty costs.

It takes an average of over 16 months to settle an estate, along with hundreds of hours of work for the person you put in charge of the process. That may be the furthest thing from caring for your family when you’re gone, but you might be able to help them dodge some time in Harris County probate court by transferring your property on death.

Passing probate

Not all states allow for a Transfer on Death Deed, but Texas makes them available for people who want to include them in their estate plan. It takes eligible property and transfers it from you to your beneficiary at the time of your passing, usually without the need for probate.

Beneficial deeds

Transferring your property when you go does have some important terms to remember:

  • Timeframe: You still own your property while you’re alive. The transfer doesn’t take place until you pass on, and you’ll be able to change the terms as you see fit. You can still use it as collateral or sell it outright, and your named beneficiary probably won’t have a say.
  • Ownership: You can only transfer property that you own. If you want to transfer ownership of a home that you and your spouse own together, you’ll likely only be able to dictate what happens to your half. Your beneficiary then becomes the co-owner in your place.
  • Creditors: Debts, liens and mortgages won’t stop you from using this process, but they won’t go away either. The person you name as the new owner may still have to contend with all the strings attached, or the property may get hung up in probate if your estate has to deal with the debts.

If taking care of your family when you’re no longer around to do so is important, then this transfer could be for you. Make sure you understand the benefits and limitations, and you might be able to help your family around a few final hurdles.

Jason Oxner

Author Jason Oxner

Jason is licensed in the State of Texas and is a member of the State Bar’s Health Law Section, Real Estate and Probate Section, and Business Law Section. More about Jason Oxner.

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