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What Is Texas Probate Law Regarding Estate Assets?

As the caregiver of an aging loved one, you may need more information around what happens to your loved one’s estate when they pass on. We hate the idea of thinking about this unfortunate reality but the sooner its confronted, the more prepared you can be.

In general, the Texas probate law requires that all estate assets are gathered and the deceased person’s remaining debts be paid out through those assets. If your loved one has any outstanding debts, you should plan on some of their estate being used to pay for those debts if/when they pass away.

It is important to note that Texas will not force any and all assets to go through probate law. There can be instances where life insurance policies or a retirement account with named beneficiaries will pass to you outside probate.

Why is that important for you to know as the caregiver? If your aging loved one desires to leave any accounts that would be outside of the probate, they need to name you in that documentation. If you put off going through proper procedure to do this, it could cause a lot of future headaches.

There are also assets that will avoid the probate process and instead go through an affidavit in the state of Texas. A few of those assets can be (but are not limited to):

  • Joint tenancy assets: If your aging loved one owns a home or community property with their spouse, the surviving spouse can become the sole owner. This would go through an affidavit and be outside of Texas probate.
  • Assets with beneficiaries designated: We mentioned this above but if there are life insurance policies that allow your loved one to designate a beneficiary, this is another asset that can be handled via affidavit.
  • Bank accounts with designated beneficiaries: These can be specific and will vary but some bank accounts will allow you to pass on the bank account to a beneficiary and avoid probate.
  • Designate transfer on death deed: If your aging loved one owns property that they have designated to be passed onto you, there is a good chance you can handle this outside of probate.

The intricacies of these laws can be extensive. We encourage anybody that is facing this situation to reach out to an elder law attorney to have the most beneficial transition when this unfortunately becomes a reality.

If you put off having proper paperwork done, it could be done too late and a higher amount of your loved one’s assets become subject to probate.

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