Fortunately, from the standpoint of time and expense, the probate process in Texas is not always the nightmare that we often hear about in other states. Especially for smaller estates, the process can be streamlined and may take only a few months, if there are no problems to resolve. Larger estates, or those where there’s conflict, take longer to go through the probate process.
Even if you have a relatively small estate, there are still reasons why you might want to avoid probate. Here are three of them:
- Preserving Your Privacy. One step in the probate process is filing your will with the court. And, once this happens, like other court papers, your will becomes a matter of public record. So, anyone who has the desire to see what’s in your Will, has the right to. This means nosy neighbors, co-workers, and distant relatives can get access to your family’s private affairs.
- Reducing the Opportunity for Conflict. Because your probate proceedings are public – and notices are published in the paper – there’s the opportunity for unscrupulous creditors to try to take advantage of your loved ones. And even if a claim against your estate is false, your executor still has to spend time and money defending against it, potentially reducing your family’s share of your estate, and adding to the length of the probate process.
Plus, the probate process gives unhappy family members the opportunity to contest your Will and tie up your estate.
- Avoiding Multiple Court Proceedings. If you own property in more than one state, and you don’t have a plan for avoiding probate, then there will likely be a separate probate proceeding in each state where your property is located. Not only does this add considerable time and expense when it comes to settling your estate, it also might open you up to extra taxes. Even though Texas doesn’t have an estate tax or an inheritance tax, some other states do. And if your property is in one of those states, there’s the potential for your estate – or your loved ones – to be taxed.
So, how do you avoid probate? There are actually a number of different methods, including establishing a Revocable Living Trust. For help with making an estate plan that will keep your property out of probate, you can talk to an estate planning attorney.