Briefcase: Avoiding Probate

Guest: Janet Heppard


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Most people intend to leave a loved one a car, a house, or even a retirement account when they die. Often, people can't afford to hire an attorney to help them take care of the estate distribution. Janet Heppard teaches in the Civil Practice Clinic, at the University of Houston Law Center. She explains what steps can be taken to pass property without an attorney.

"While a will is important, no matter the size of an estate, additional steps can help ensure that property is passed on to loved ones," Professor Heppard said. "Complete a form called a ‘Transfer on Death Deed’ and file it in the county property records department. It will enable you to transfer real estate upon your death.”

“Sign a ‘Payable on Death' form at your bank to ensure seamless transfer of accounts,” Heppard continued. “Have a completed ‘Vehicle Transfer on Death' form to ensure the transfer of automobiles and be certain that beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies are current."