FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 09/01/2015
Three laws to increase access to the probate process go into effect today
Three laws authored or sponsored by Rep. Farrar in the 84th Legislative Session go into effect today. These laws aim to increase access to the probate process, particularly for low-income Texans. Many low-income families do not probate a deceased loved one's estate. Unfortunately, failing to do so can lead to a "cloudy title," which limits the ability to sell or otherwise transfer property and to qualify for homestead tax exemptions. Following an interim workgroup led by Rep. Farrar's office that included probate, real estate, and title attorneys as well as judges, Rep. Farrar filed bills to address issues that inhibit access to the probate process.
Under SB 462 by Huffman, the senate companion to HB 703 by Farrar, Texans will be able to use a transfer-on-death deed, which allows a property owner to pass real property to a designated beneficiary without a will or probate administration. SB 1791 by Ellis, senate companion to HB 704 by Farrar, improves disclosures related to payable-on-death (POD) accounts to increase awareness and use of this type of account. HB 705 by Farrar creates a mechanism for a decedent's heirs to get bank account balance information from a bank or other financial institution. This information is necessary when using a small estate affidavit, a less costly alternative to full probate administration available in some situations.
"Interacting with the judicial system can be a confusing and costly experience, but most Texans must do so at some point in their lives," Rep. Farrar said. "With these new laws, many low-income families will be able to more affordably and efficiently plan their estates and access inherited property."