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Payable on death in a bank account, for example, gives you the right to withdraw the money after someone has died. It does not give you legal rights to that money. If my bank says pay on death to my daughter but I leave all of my assets to my son in my will, even though my daughter can withdraw those funds after I pass away, technically my son is the one who inherited those assets. He can come after them. This is a harsh consequence because not a lot of people understand this. You’ve got to have language in there that says “with rights of survivorship” if you want to legally transfer the legal title of the cash to that person. This gets even more complicated when we have married couples because Texas is a community property state and creating rights of survivorship with your spouse is not as easy as it is to create rights of survivorship with someone who is not your spouse.

If you want to leave assets to your spouse and create rights of survivorship, you both have to sign the document, whereas only the owner has to sign the document if it’s not going to your spouse. This happens a lot in joint tenancy with the rights of survivorship for houses or real property. If it’s going between spouses, both spouses have to sign the document. I rarely recommend using it but it’s really important to know exactly what your beneficiaries and your designations are doing in your bank accounts to make sure that it’s not just a pay on death if you want to create legal ownership that will transfer to your children.

My Father Lived Out Of State And Died Without A Will? What Should I Do With His Land In Texas?

If your deceased loved one lived in Texas and you live in another state, you are going to have to open up what’s called an ancillary probate, which is just a fancy way of saying you’ve got to go through probate in Texas. The land is in Texas, so Texas has jurisdiction. Sometimes, we can get probate transferred with an affidavit of heirship. You’ll need to get some family friends who knew your father for a long time and are willing to testify as to his family history and marital past. Otherwise, we’ve got to open up an intestate probate and you will have to be appointed as the administrator of the estate in Texas. A lot of times, people have to go through probate twice. If you lived in Florida but you own land in Texas, while you are going through a probate in Florida, you’ve got to open up a probate in Texas to transfer your property in Texas as well. Most people who own property in multiple states choose to use a revocable living trust to put their property in to avoid probate.

I Need To Probate My Mother’s Will. I’m Not Sure I Can Afford The Process. What Do I Do?

What I do for clients in difficult situations is offer a payment plan. Attorneys are expensive and a lot of times you can’t come up with a full retainer and I understand. If you don’t probate the will and you don’t get the assets transferred, you are causing a mess down the road and it will be a lot more expensive to transfer everything later. If there is a house and you cannot afford to pay for it, ask your attorney if they are willing to wait until the house is sold to pay for their legal fees. Sometimes, that’s a great solution. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of low-income nonprofit help for probate plans because if you are having to go through a probate, there are assets that are worth money. I really try to offer flexible payment methods for clients in this situation.

What Should I Do If My Mother Left a 401(k) But No Beneficiary And No Will?

If there is no beneficiary, a 401(k) will pass into the estate and you’ve got to go through probate to transfer that asset. If there is no will, it falls under the Texas Intestate Code. Sometimes, the spouse and the children are at the mercy of what the Texas code says. You’ve got to hire a probate attorney; you’ve got to get appointed over the estate, and then you’ve got to distribute it. It’s more expensive and more time consuming, and a second attorney will be appointed to represent the heirs because there is no will.

For more information on Joint Ownership With Rights Of Survivorship, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 851-1248 today.