Ramona Kantack Alcántara, now Of Counsel for the Brown Law Firm, has been providing answers and alternatives to probate, guardianship, and conservatorship proceedings, and advising clients on estate planning issues for more than 4 decades. During that time, we have seen the development of laws and vehicles designed to make the process of transferring assets upon a person's death or incapacity more efficient and less expensive. We also see the financial and emotional toll, and the tremendous cost to estates when people fail to properly plan for their inevitable passing and possible incapacity.
Probate is a court proceeding. It is expensive. Over the last few decades, the Texas legislature has developed a number of laws designed to avoid the cost of probating assets when someone dies. These include:
- Transfer on death deed (sometimes called a beneficiary deed)
- Pay on death or transfer on death beneficiary designations on bank and investment accounts
- Transfer on death beneficiary for your motor vehicles.
Another way to avoid probate is to establish a revocable living trust. These revocable living trusts tend to be expensive to set up and are cumbersome to administer during a person's lifetime. It may or may not be appropriate for you. Please see our article on “Should I Get a Revocable Living Trust?” for more information. We can help you decide what is the most efficient and least expensive way to transfer your assets upon your death.
Guardianships and conservatorships are also probate proceedings, and therefore can be quite expensive. In addition, because a guardianship or conservatorship limits a person's rights, it is appropriate to first consider alternatives such as:
- Assistive services from community agencies, including case management
- Advance directives (living wills) regarding end-of-life medical treatments
- Durable power of attorney for health care and property decisions
- Signature authority on checking accounts so that a relative or trusted friend can help pay bills
- Asking a family member or outside agency to serve as a representative payee for Social Security payments
Contact Us Today
For seasoned counsel on wills, guardianships and estate planning, contact our South Padre Island, Texas, law office for a confidential consultation with a skilled estate planning attorney. Call us at 956-761-8000. Our office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and evenings and weekends by appointment. If necessary, a lawyer will be glad to travel to your home or office in order to meet with you. We strive to offer clients competitive, reasonable rates and professional, focused estate planning counsel.