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What steps may I take to help my heirs avoid probate?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2022 | Probate Administration |

Texas residents may speed up their asset distribution by adding heirs to their financial accounts. You could review and choose those financial institutions that allow clients to name beneficiaries or add joint owners to their accounts. You may also consider creating a living trust.

As described by Forbes, adding heirs to your accounts as “transfer-on-death” beneficiaries may allow them to receive funds or assets without probate. Many banks allow TOD beneficiaries on checking and savings accounts. Financial institutions holding 401(k) or individual retirement accounts may, however, have certain forms you must first fill out. By adding TOD beneficiaries, your accounts or their contents may transfer to the named individuals upon death.

Multiple TOD beneficiaries and joint account owners

Some institutions allow naming multiple beneficiaries and assigning a percentage of the account to each one. You may, for example, name two heirs as TOD beneficiaries and arrange for each to receive half of the account’s assets.

If you prefer to name an heir as a joint account owner, he or she becomes the full owner by presenting a copy of your death certificate. Your heir may then take ownership of the assets in your account and avoid probate. Joint owners may also access your funds while you remain alive.

Assets retitled into a living trust

A living trust may hold properties such as your residence or vacation home. As noted by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, a trust requires retitling deeds from your name over to the trust. You may also retitle and transfer investment accounts into your living trust. Assets or properties placed in your trust may avoid the probate process.

Probate could lengthen the time between your death and when heirs take ownership of your assets. You may speed up the process through TOD or joint ownership accounts and through a living trust that holds your valuable properties.