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Is There a Way to Avoid Probate in Texas?

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

San Antonio probate lawyerFor many people, probate is a dreaded process. It can be extremely complicated and flush with legal technicalities, deadlines, and mandated procedures that must be followed in the right order. If the difficulty of the probate process is not enough of a deterrent, the expense should be. Probate courts can also charge fees that many feel are exorbitant, and the process may leave your estate exposed to hefty tax burdens. It can also take months to years before a single beneficiary actually receives anything out of the estate. The reasons probate might be undesirable are plentiful. Fortunately, with the skill of an experienced estate planning attorney, there are ways to keep most or all of your assets out of probate. 

When Does an Estate Need to Pass Through Probate? 

For a long time, a will was the main way that people passed on their assets after death. This is rapidly changing. All transfers of property done by a will must pass through the probate process. So, if you use a will as your sole testamentary document, your entire estate will need to go through probate. Any property that is controlled by a will is subject to probate - which is why many are turning to trusts as an alternative.

Estates that are not controlled by any testamentary legal documents also must go through probate. When a person dies without having made an estate plan that governs the disposition of their property, the courts must step in and decide who should receive what. The laws of intestacy govern in this case, so what is left of the estate after the probate process will pass to the nearest living relatives. 

How Can Probate Be Avoided? 

It is unsurprising that many people these days prefer to bypass probate entirely wherever possible. The primary way that wealth can be transferred after death without passing through probate is through the use of a trust. In a trust, the person making his estate plan transfers property into the trust. Unlike a will, transferring property into a trust has an immediate impact - the trust now owns that property. Your intended beneficiaries can be added to the trust so that when you are gone, they simply take over ownership of the trust and trust property. 

It may be a bit more complicated than that as it plays out in real life, but transferring property through a trust is certainly simpler than trying to navigate through probate. Trusts are flexible legal vehicles - there are many types, many ways to set them up, and many options for the estate planner seeking to avoid probate. An experienced attorney can help you narrow down the types of trust that may be right for you. 

Call a San Antonio Estate Planning Attorney

If you would like to learn more about your options for using a trust to avoid probate, Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law, can help. Our experienced San Antonio estate planning lawyer will assess your unique situation and help custom design the estate plan that is perfect for you and your loved ones. Call 210-535-0870 for a free consultation. 



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