Everything’s Better in Texas…Including Death

My life as a Texan began almost 34 years ago when my family moved from Ireland to Texas.

Culture shock was an understatement to describe my reaction. It was unbearably hot and humid. Everyone was tall and wore jeans with a big belt buckle and cowboy boots. No one walks anywhere, even if it’s close. Everyone uses words like “y’all” and “fixin’ to,” even your English teacher. And Texans love Texas.

Like really love it. No one is more proud of where they come from then a Texan. The state flag is everywhere. A point of national, I mean state, pride. Things made into the shape of Texas? The list is endless. Do Californians eat pasta and waffles in the shape of California? I don’t think so.

It took a few years (or decades) for me to come to love Texas. I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could, or so the bumper sticker slogan goes. It’s a great place to live. Booming economy, low cost of living, and the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet.

Texas makes it easy to live, but also to die.

How’s that for a transition?

It’s Wednesday, and I am discussing estate planning issues.

Today’s topic is how Texas law makes it easy peasy to avoid probate with two of your biggest probate assets, your home and your car.

A Texas transfer on death deed is a simple, inexpensive way to transfer your home to your beneficiary upon your death. It does not involve going through probate court, which can be a lengthy and costly process. It works similarly to a life insurance policy, because your home will pass to your beneficiary upon your death outside the probate system. To get the property after your death, all your beneficiary needs to do is to file a copy of the death certificate in the county clerk’s office of the county where the deed was filed.

There is also a “transfer on death” option for motor vehicles. Texas law allows the owner of a motor vehicle to designate a beneficiary to whom the owner’s interest in the vehicle transfers on the owner’s death. Again, the transfer does not involve going through probate court.

In both “transfers on death” situations, the beneficiary designation over-rides any contradictory statement in the owner’s will. “Transfers on death” also provide a method for real estate and motor vehicles to pass to a family member instead of being claimed by the state as reimbursement for Medicaid expenditures.

Do you still need a will if you have a transfer on death deed or title? Heck yes. Everyone needs a will because you may still have probate assets and there is always a chance that the beneficiaries you name in your transfer on death deed or title will die before or at the same time as you.

Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

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