Eliminate the Need for Probate
We get calls every week from folks who want to eliminate the need for probate. Probate refers specifically to the court process involving a Last Will and Testament. For this article we will call all actions taken in the Probate Court “probate.”
Following are some tips to handle things prior to your death so that those left behind may be able to avoid the probate process. Please be aware, that you cannot adequately cover everything, but depending on the assets in your estate, you might be able to help eliminate the need for probate.
At the very minimum you will be able to pass certain assets outside the probate process. These assets will belong to the person or persons you designate immediately upon your death. Let’s say, for example, the only thing you have is your vehicle . . .
Eliminate Need for Probate: Cars and Trucks
Beneficiary Designation for Motor Vehicles
Your car is one thing you can pass outside your estate when you die. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has Designation of Beneficiary for Motor Vehicle forms for use if you own your car or truck individually and want to leave it to a specific person outside your will. This doesn’t work for your company car.
Simply complete and submit the beneficiary form, an Application for Texas Title form, the title application fee and valid ownership evidence prior to your death and it is valid. You can revoke or change the beneficiary at any time. Be sure to let your beneficiary know about the bequest, because they have to act fairly quickly.
The beneficiary must submit a title application form, any application fees due, the original title or a print-out — you can get this from the county tax-assessor collector — and the death certificate within 180 days of your death or the car goes back into your estate.
Rights of Survivor Ownership Agreement for Motor Vehicles
If you own the car with a joint owner, then fill out the Rights of Survivorship form and record it with the office of the tax collector-assessor for your county. That way the other owner can complete the paperwork after your death and the car becomes his/hers.
The surviving owner submits a death certificate and an Application for Texas Title.
Affidavit of Heirship for Motor Vehicles
If you do not do either of these things prior to your death, your heirs can submit an Affidavit of Heirship for Motor Vehicles form to gain title to the car. If the car is the only thing they have to deal with, this will eliminate the need for probate. In many instances, there is no possible way to eliminate the need for probate; you can, however take care of your car or truck prior to your death.
All of the forms you need are available on-line, free of charge, at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website. Click here to review the forms.