The transfer of property after death in Texas can be complicated without an estate plan. By working with an accomplished trusts and estates lawyer, you will have peace of mind knowing that your estate property and your loved ones will be protected.
That’s where the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC comes in. When you consult with us, we will explain how to transfer property after death through a legally binding will or living trust. Lead estate planning attorney Carey Thompson is highly experienced in helping individuals, couples, and families prepare for their financial future. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Transfer of Real Estate Property After Death
If you own a home or other real estate, the property must go through the probate process after you die. Probate is a court-supervised process for paying your debts and managing and distributing your assets. Generally, real estate will be transferred to a beneficiary, unless it must be sold to pay any debts
With a Will
If you have a will in place, your home, and other real property will be transferred to the beneficiaries named in the document. Once the probate court has validated the will, the executor is responsible for transferring title to the heir and filing a new deed with the county’s recording office
It is important to note that property owned jointly with the right of survivorship does not need to be probated. Joint tenancy is a form of ownership typically used by married couples in Texas and around the country. Because Texas is a community property state, however, an heir may have a claim to jointly owned property. If an unmarried couple owned property jointly and one owner died, for example, a portion of that owner’s interest may be inherited by his or her closest living relatives.
In any event, a jointly owned home should be included in your will to best protect the survivor’s ownership interest. Moreover, the property will be subjected to probate after the surviving owner dies. Finally, property held in a revocable living trust can be transferred after death without going through the probate process.
Without a Will
The transfer of property after death without a will requires court intervention. When a person dies without a will (intestate) and does not leave a spouse, the probate court will distribute all property and assets according to the intestate succession rules of Texas, which prioritizes children, parents, and siblings of the deceased.
While this sounds straightforward, not having a will means that the wrong people could inherit your property. Moreover, not having a will increases the likelihood of disputes among family members and other potential beneficiaries. For this reason, having a will is the simplest way to transfer property after death.
The Transfer of Property After Death Using a Lady Bird Deed
An enhanced life estate deed, also referred to as a Lady Bird deed, allows your estate to avoid probate, continue to control your property during your lifetime, and designate a beneficiary to inherit your property.
In a standard life estate deed, you retain ownership of your property during your lifetime and name a remainder beneficiary. However, you don’t have the right to sell or mortgage the property. An enhanced life estate deed combines the features of a life estate deed with the retained power to sell, convey, or mortgage the property without the remainder beneficiary’s consent.
A Lady Bird deed essentially divides fee simple ownership (the most common form of real property ownership) into a life estate and a remainder interest. The property is transferred from the current owner to him/herself as a life tenant and one or more remainder beneficiaries are named to inherit the property when the current owner dies. The transfer occurs automatically after death without the need for probate.
The Transfer of Other Assets After Death
As mentioned above, property held jointly with the right of survivorship and property held by a trust transfer after death automatically. Other types of assets are not required to be probated as well, including:
- Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
- Life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries
- Bank accounts with POD (pay on death) or “in trust for” designations
By working with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney, you can ensure that your property is properly titled and your beneficiary designations are up to date and aligned with your estate plan.
How the Law Office of Carey Thompson Can Help
The best way to protect your home and other property from probate, creditors’ claims, and legal disputes is to work with our legal team. We have in-depth knowledge of the Texas Estate Code and regularly prepare essential estate planning documents, including:
- Power of attorney
- Advance directive for healthcare (health care proxy)
- Revocable living trust
- Irrevocable trust
We know that no two estates are alike and will tailor your estate plan to your unique needs. The transfer of property after death may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact our office today to set up an appointment.