As we mention on our website, probate can be a time consuming and expensive process in Texas. Probate is also a public proceeding. With strategic estate planning, you can avoid this, and your beneficiaries will receive distributions and asset transfers directly after your passing. This goal can be accomplished using non-probate assets, such as beneficiary designations on back accounts, as well as trusts.
A common error we encounter with our estate planning clients concerns trusts, both revocable and irrevocable. Although trust documentation may specifically describe the beneficiaries, how the trustee should administer the trust and how it should be funded, this paperwork is meaningless unless the trust is actually funded, with assets transferred into the trust. This means that assets should be retitled in the name of the trust.
Coordinating Your Will and Trust(s)
In a comprehensive estate plan, your last will and testament works together with your other estate instruments, such as trusts. For example, a “pour over” provision in your will can safeguard against any overlooked assets that you forgot to transfer into your trust. Since instructions in a will generally must be approved by a probate court, this pour-over will similarly require probate. However, the process will be much more streamlined.
We have the experience to design and keep current an estate plan that reflects your needs and values. We understand the various options that trusts allow, such as beneficiary trusts to protect assets from creditors or special needs trusts designed to care for a disabled family member.
Source: Forbes, “7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes – Not Avoiding Probate,” Bob Carlson, Feb. 26, 2018