Probate Just Got More Private In Texas

One factor that often motivates people to choose revocable trust-based plans as opposed to will-based plans is the privacy trusts afford.

Assets within a trust pass to their intended beneficiary without the need for probate, which required an estate’s representative to file an inventory, appraisement and list of claims with the court. Revocable trust-based plans avoided the public disclosure of information required in the inventory.

But probate in Texas recently got more private. Effective September 1, 2011, Section Sec. 309.056 of the Texas Estates Code permits independent executors to file an affidavit in lieu of an inventory, appraisement and list of claims if there are no unpaid debts, except for secured debts, taxes and administration expenses at the time the inventory is due.

The affidavit must state:

  1. All debts, except for secured debts, taxes, and administration expenses, are paid; and
  2. All beneficiaries have received a verified, full , and detailed inventory.

The independent executor must still prepare a verified, full, and detailed inventory and provide it to the beneficiaries of the will. But it is not necessary to file the inventory with the court, which will keep the information contained in the inventory private.

This new law should alleviate a the privacy concerns some people have with the probate process.

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