September 1st 2015.  Probate died.  Well. It’s breathing heavy.


And no one seemed to notice!


Let me explain . . .


When you die, someone has to deal with your “stuff.”   That usually means someone hires a lawyer and goes down to the courthouse to open a Probate to get authority to sell the stuff leftover such as a house, car, etc.


A lot of people have a house, car, maybe some bank accounts or investment accounts, insurance policy.


Insurance – easy! Just put down someone as a beneficiary and they get it.  No courthouse trip needed here.


Bank accounts – no need to probate if you name a “payable on death” person.  Someone who gets the account when you croak.


Investment accounts – for those stocks perhaps – like insurance you can simply designate a beneficiary.  No problem.


Car – this can be easy sometimes thanks to, just do the affidavit and your good. Maybe.




What about the HOUSE?   Yep, you get to hire a lawyer.  At least, you used to need a lawyer. Before 9-1-2015.


Wonder why everything has a beneficiary designation except real estate?  So did the State of Texas!  On September 1st, they passed a law allowing a beneficiary designation on your house.


Very cool!   It’s called a Transfer on Death Deed.  You file a deed which designates a person to own the home when you die.  (Need a lawyer here, but a heck of a lot cheaper than probate)


Wait, BS, what’s the catch?


Ok, here’s the scoop:


  • It’s New. That’s maybe not good. Not beaten up by experience, lawyers, trial and error, etc. Scary? Hmmm. You decide.
  • Creditors can come get it! If you owe a lot of money to creditors, those creditors would normally go to probate, but since no probate, they have the right to go after the house even though it transferred to a new person (for 2 years) Might be tough getting title insurance for the new owner. Oops. New person gets the house and the burdens on the house like this. Don’t forget the mortgage too.
  • Dead person got the house! If the lucky person who was supposed to get the house dies before you do, well, that’s a problem potentially.


So who is it good for?


  • Someone without any significant debts such as credit cards, or at least leaves enough cash to pay off those creditors so they don’t go after the house.
  • Someone who will take the house happily and not want to sell it for a couple of years. Like your spouse perhaps.
  • Someone who really doesn’t need a probate otherwise.


But!  Whatever you do, have a will.  Whether you use a Transfer on Death Deed as part of the plan, a will is a badly needed document to save your heirs a lot of hassle.  Especially if the Transfer on Death Deed causes problems.


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