Probate can be a very beneficial process, but it also can drag on and cause a strain on your family. With that in mind, many people aim to avoid probate or at least reduce the need for probate.
There are many ways you can plan your estate to avoid or minimize probate, but when it comes to jointly owned property, you need to be cautious and aware of what the Texas Constitution and Statutes say.
If you and another person own property and you die, the law does not allow for automatic transfer of the property to the other person. In fact, the law specifically says joint ownership does not give a surviving owner the rights to the other owner’s interest.
To ensure your interest in a property goes to a joint owner, you must put it in writing. You have to have a written instruction that upon your death, the other owner inherits your portion of ownership if you wish for him or her to receive the full ownership rights of the property.
Community or marital property is that which you and your spouse own together. If the joint property you hold is with your spouse, then you do not need to have the written agreement to leave him or her ownership. Your marital relationship alters the way the law looks at ownership in this situation and will award the property to your spouse.
Ownership after your death can become complicated, especially if you fail to create an estate plan. In most cases, if there is any doubt or a need for legal intervention, the issue will go before the probate court.