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What Is The Simplest Probate In Texas When There Is No Will?

 

If your loved one died without a Will, transferring his or her assets to beneficiaries can be quite difficult. If no action is taken, assets will not be properly transferred and the beneficiaries will have to take some legal action down the road to straighten out the situation. In some cases, a costly determination of heirship proceeding and dependent administration of the estate may be required. 

 

 

There is one probate procedure, however, that is quite simple—if it can be used. The key is meeting Texas statutory requirements for what is called a “Small Estate Affidavit.”

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The Difference Between Statutory Transfer On Death Deed & Lady Bird Deed

Two terms are used in the state of Texas to describe a deed that automatically transfers title to real estate you own on your death—a transfer on death deed and a “Lady Bird Deed” (LBD). The distinction between these two deeds is subtle, but very important.


 
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Advance Planning Tools To Help Avoid Probate

Sometimes, even when a person has drawn up a Will, probate of the Will may not be necessary. Advance planning with probate-alternative documents can avoid the need for probate in many cases.

Some Pre-Death Planning Examples Are:

  1. A Transfer on Death Deed or “Lady Bird Deed"
  2. Beneficiary Designations on Retirement Accounts, Life Insurance, Brokerage Accounts and The Like
  3. A Trust Arrangement
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Do I Need A Trust?

I frequently am asked by prospective estate planning clients, "Do I need a trust?" The answer is the classic one: It depends.
 
For some people a revocable living trust is a very smart estate planning tool, and for others it is a waste of money.
 
Trusts are promoted in a lot of random general literature that the public receives. They are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Whether setting up a living trust is a good idea for you should be discussed with an estate planning attorney who has full knowledge of your assets, family circumstances, and desires.
 
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Do I Have To Probate If There Was A Will?

I have addressed in another blog several steps that can be taken as part of the estate planning process that help avoid the need for probate. If those steps were not taken, a full probate still may not be needed.

I am frequently contacted after the passing of a loved one about whether a probate of the loved one's Will is necessary or not. The answer is the standard attorney's reply, "It depends." Sometimes, if your loved one has no assets that are not already disposed of by beneficiary designation or payable on death provisions, there is no need to probate a Will.

This frequently happens if the loved one had already sold the home and was residing in a nursing home, and the only assets he or she still owned were liquid assets. However, if there is real estate still owned by the deceased or oil and gas interests that are not in a trust, some form of probate may be required to transfer the assets. 

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The Average Cost Of A Determination Of Heirship Proceeding In Texas

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

  • In Part One, I discussed probate as a muniment of title, which is usually one of the least expensive procedures.
  • In Part Two, I discussed the cost of an independent administration of the estate. Both of those procedures require the decedent to have had a Will.
  • In Part Three I discussed how if there is no will, the least expensive way to settle the estate through a court proceeding is a small estate affidavit.
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When Is A Living Trust A Waste Of Money

One of my biggest pet peeves over the years has been the over-selling of living trust packages to folks doing their estate planning. There are definitely times when a living trust is a good estate planning tool. However, for many individuals a living trust is an unnecessary expense.    

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What Is A Small Estate Affidavit Proceeding And What Does It Cost?

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. 

In Part One, I discussed probate as a muniment of title, which usually is one of the least expensive procedures. In Part Two, I discussed the cost of an independent administration of the estate. Both of those procedures require the decedent to have had a will. If there is no will, the least expensive way to settle the estate through a court proceeding is a small estate affidavit.  

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Probate As A Muniment Of Title: What Is It & What Does It Cost?

In this series of blogs, I am outlining various different types of probates or probate alternatives to settle an estate and their likely costs. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, the cost is predominantly determined by the type of procedure followed. This type of probate is the least expensive formal, court-administered proceeding. 

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What Is A Muniment Of Title Probate, And When Is It Appropriate?

Texas law provides for a shortened, less complicated, less expensive form of probate in specific circumstances called probate as a muniment of title. This funny-sounding procedure really means that your loved one’s will is officially recognized as valid by the probate court and placed of public record as notice to third parties to honor the terms of the will for transfer of property. This is a very simple process compared to a full, regular probate.

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