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Simple Steps to Avoid Probate

What are the three most common assets in an estate? Generally, a house, car(s), and bank account(s). With all three of these assets, there are ways to transfer them upon death without the need to open a probate.

A house can be transferred to a person of your choosing by filing a Transfer on Death Deed. This document is filed with the County Clerk and it states that upon your death, the deed to the house is automatically transferred to the person you designate in the document. The designated grantee shall receive title to the property, still subject to any liens, mortgages, or other encumbrances on the title. 

Similar to a house, a motor vehicle can be transferred to a person of your choosing by filing a Transfer on Death Notice Application with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. However, unlike a house, a vehicle may only be transferred this way if it is NOT subject to a lien or other encumbrance on the title.

Unfortunately, some bank accounts have no transfer on death method that will transfer the account to a person of your choosing upon death. The only way to transfer an account without estate planning documents in place is to put the designated person’s name on the account before death. The issue with this of course is that the designated person will have full access to the account before the death of the original account holder. However, if your bank does allow for a Transfer on Death with your account, that will operate in the same way as the vehicle and house title Transfer on Death.

While these methods are fairly easy and cheap to implement, they are not substitutes for good estate planning. Wills and trusts allow you the freedom of designating specific persons to receive specific assets or a percentage of assets, and can be set up to protect your heirs and beneficiaries from any creditors that might have a claim against your estate. If you or someone you know has any questions on estate planning, please contact our office for a free consultation.